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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

WRIGHT: MLB should not implement pitch timer rule

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

As Spring Training rolls around, players will be in for one rollercoaster of a season.

When Major League Baseball announced in September that there were significant rule changes being put into place for the 2023 season, I prepared for the worst. There are three main rules: the creation of the pitch timer, shift restrictions and bigger bases.

I’m indifferent toward the bigger bases rule, despite the fact that they now look like pizza boxes. The shift restrictions make sense, although it’s not my favorite rule. This just means that at the time the pitch is thrown, all four infielders must remain on the dirt with two on each side of second base.

As for the pitch timer rule, it should not be implemented at all.

With this new change, the pitcher now has 15 seconds to deliver his pitch while there are no runners on base, and 20 seconds when there are runners on base. There will be a 30second timer in between batters.

Batters must be ready to hit by the eight-second mark and those who aren’t will be charged with an automatic strike. Pitchers who violate the above rules will be charged with an automatic ball.

That is stupid. Just like everything else that has come from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in his tenure.

Pitchers are also limited to two “disengagements,” which basically means they can only throw over to a base or step off the rubber twice per batter. If the pitcher throws over a third time and is not successful, it is considered a balk, meaning the runner automatically advances to the next base.

Get ready for the highest stealing percentage in a MLB season!

The players don’t have much time to get used to this change, as this rule will be enforced when the first Spring Training exhibition games begin Feb. 24.

Manfred said that these rule changes were made with the fans at the forefront of the conversation.

“Number one, fans want games with better pace,” Manfred said in a press conference Sept. 9, 2022. “Two, fans want more action, more balls in play. And three, fans want to see more of the athleticism of our great players.”

Sure, this creates more action that pleases the fans and speeds up the game by 26 minutes. But what about the players? What about the veterans that have played the game as it is for their whole lives?

The Major League Baseball Players Association had four seats on the competition committee that approved the rule changes, all of which voted against the pitch timer.

That just goes to show how little respect Manfred has for the players.

The main issue that I have with this rule is how much the pitch clock could dictate the outcome of a game, specifically a postseason game. Players have also been vocal about this concern.

This rule has been tested in over 8,000 minor league games in the past year, but no minor league game can ever measure up to how loud 50,000 heckling fans can get in Yankee Stadium.

Imagine a rule violation in Game 7 of the 2023 World Series. Bases are loaded, two outs and the pitcher has disengaged twice already. His head is scrambling and as the pitch clock winds down, he steps off to regather himself.

Except that now, this means every runner advances to the next base, which results in a crucial run being scored.

So now, we are expecting total perfection from players in high pressure situations. How can this be fair?

This not only affects the pitchers, but also the hitters. This means no more adjusting batting gloves between pitches, fiddling with helmets or any other routines that veteran batters have grown accustomed to.

In a way, strategy is almost completely removed from the game. Pitchers are no longer in control of the pace of each at bat, and in return, runners can take ridiculous leads and steal a base with ease. This is not baseball.

America’s national pastime is changing as we know it. Some fans may appreciate the change, but I will not be one of them. Despite this, I am looking forward to inevitably seeing chaos ensue along with the memes that will surely be created in March.

This article was written by Kaylynn Wright. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @KaylynnWrightMU.

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About the Contributor
Kaylynn Wright
Kaylynn Wright, Assistant Sports Editor
Kaylynn Wright is a sophomore from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin studying journalism, and she is an Assistant Sports Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys reading and watching baseball, specifically the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox. She is excited to meet new people and continue to create high-quality sports content for the Wire.

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