Some of the fondest memories from my childhood were the nights out at the ballpark. I remember the roaring crowd and the food sent flying whenever someone hit a home run. But I also remember how exhausted I would feel the next day because of how late the games would go. However, this has changed.The MLB has implemented the pitch clock into games, limiting the time a pitcher can take to throw. At a Rays game I attended recently, I noticed how quickly the game went and how refreshing it felt to watch a game where the pitcher wasn’t taking too much time to throw. The pitch clock has created an exciting buzz for baseball. Fans are flocking to the stadium. So how does this minor change make baseball better for the MLB and its fans?
How Technology Helps Enforce the Rules
Since 1901, there have been rules limiting the time a pitcher could take to throw–although they were rarely enforced. Now, with the help of the Pitch-comm and Reidel, umpires are equipped with a haptic belt that lets them know when the clock has reached certain times, which means the limit can be properly enforced.
To coordinate all the timing in the game, the MLB have Field Time Coordinators, or FTCs. These FTCs start countdowns on the clock when everyone is in position and ready. The league also utilizes Zoom video conferencing technology to assist in the review of plays. The system uses IPad pro to stream replays to MLB’s operations headquarters in New York. Umpires are also connected to this system, but only have the audio from the center according, to the Stadium Tech Report.
Technology is taking an even bigger role in baseball and ensuring fairness through all levels of play.
How the Pitch Clock is Changing the Game for the Better
First and foremost, the pitch clock has impacted baseball’s pace by implementing a 15-second limit between pitches with no runners on base, and a 20-second limit with runners on base. The clock encourages pitchers and batters to work more efficiently and quickly. The limit has led to a noticeable reduction in the time of games, with the average game time dropping from three hours and three minutes in 2022, to two hours and thirty-seven minutes in 2023, a marked change from the lengthy games of the past.
In addition to reducing the length of games, the pitch clock has also resulted in a massive change in baseball’s strategy. By limiting the amount of time between pitches, the clock encourages pitchers to work more quickly. This limit helps both the pitcher, who can conserve his energy and avoid overuse, and the defense, who can stay more alert and focused during the game.
This reduction in pitches thrown per game also reduces the number of walks and strikeouts, as pitchers need to throw more strikes to stay within the time limit imposed by the pitch clock, thereby shortening the game.
Three Inches Matters: Bigger Bases and More Running
Another recent change is the lengthening of the bases. To encourage safety, the MLB has increased the size of the bases from 15 inches to 18 inches. In 2022, there was an average of 1.01 stolen bases every game. With the larger bases and pitch clock in place, it has increased to 1.41 per game, according to USA Today.
The response by fans is mixed. Many fans argue that the bases are breaking tradition. While this may not upset newer or more casual fans, it will upset diehard fans who do not want the game to change. While you could argue that because baseball has such deep roots, changing fundamental parts of the game can impact what these fans love about baseball.
However, part of baseball is the rush of dopamine you feel whenever your favorite team makes an incredible play. With the smaller bases, players were more hesitant to steal bases. Now, with larger bases, players can achieve more of these crowd-pleasing plays.
Why Fans Love the Changes
Why do new and old fans love these changes so much? It’s convenient. Many baseball fans were previously unable to go to these games because of their outrageous run time. Since most games start late afternoon, fans would get home late at night. These late hours made anyone with a job lose valuable time reserved for sleep.
For me, this resulted in tired days in school.
For many others, this can ruin the whole prospects of a baseball game. Its newfound convenience makes the game a viable weeknight activity, opening a new potential customer base while continuing to please its current fans.
People like Nick Wize of Tampa Bay have pointed out how convenient the shorter games are. Another reason fans are enjoying the new rules is because there is more action. The larger bases and pitch clock allows players to steal more bases.
The pitch clock has altered baseball, particularly the pace and the number of pitches thrown per game. It has shortened the length of the games, making it more appealing to a larger audience. The pitch clock is a small but significant change for baseball. It refreshed the game, making it enjoyable and refreshing for new and old fans.
Seeing how much the game changed with the pitch clock is truly amazing. New fans can enjoy the new and improved baseball as much as I did when I was a kid.