Baseball's new clock seeks to shorten game

Alex Turcinov

     Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver said, “In baseball, you can’t kill the clock. That’s why this is the greatest game.” The game without a clock, the game that takes its sweet time—that is the old adage that baseball folks have prided themselves on for about 150 years. Well, Weaver and countless other baseball legends must be rolling in their graves as you read this because baseball is doing the unthinkable—they are adding a clock. 

     With the average game pushing three hours, the Major League Baseball will introduce “pace of play rules.” According to the league’s Pace of Game committee, half-inning breaks are limited to two minutes, 45 seconds, as kept by a timer. With 40 seconds left the batter’s walk-up music must start; with 30 seconds, the pitcher must finish warming-up; and the batter must enter the box before the clock reaches five seconds. The same clock will apply to pitching changes. Additionally, batters are to keep one foot in the box between pitchers; umpires enforce this rule by calling automatic strikes on batters. Managers may also challenge plays without exiting the dugout. In the minor leagues, clocks will limit the time between pitches: an initiative currently too radical for the big leagues. 

     These rules went into effect on opening day; however, the league will not fine violators until May. First time violations receive a warning, while fines up to $500 are possible for repeat offenders. 

     In a way, these rules have always existed in baseball: umpires always have the power to speed up players’ routines. However, umpires rarely exercise this power, especially in the MLB. The result is baseball’s plummeting popularity. According to CBS Sports, only 14 percent of people claim baseball as their favorite sport. The National Football League, on the other hand, is the favorite game of 35 percent of Americans. Baseball games are mundane, tedious events broadcasted during the warmest times of the year, while the National Basketball Association and NFL broadcast during the colder, “TV-friendly” months. The NFL distracts from the end of baseball season, while the NBA does the same in the beginning. In our age of high-speed technology, where endless entertainment can be obtained instantly with tablets and smartphones, baseball games demand a virtue few of us have— patience. 

     Baseball is in a lose-lose situation here: the new rules inevitably anger the old-fashioned, hardcore fans, but make the games more bearable for others. In the long run, it’s doubtful more people will tune into baseball games because of these new rules. Baseball is simply not a good-for-TV sport.

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2015-05-19 08:24:34

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