Tick Tock: Pitch Clocks Coming to Minors


Well, it’s a good thing Josh Beckett has retired. While nothing will be implemented at the Major League level in 2015, there will be 20-second pitch clocks utilized at Double-A and Triple-A this season. In an effort to speed up the pace of game, the 20-second pitch clocks were used in the Arizona Fall League this past October. This experimentation was fueled by the increase of the length of the average MLB game in 2014 which was three hours and eight minutes.

Other time savers could include implementing time limits on pitching changes, breaks between innings and requiring hitters to keep one foot in the batter’s box between pitches. No more Don Mattingly stall tactics during pitching changes to allow extra time for his reliever to warm up in the bullpen?

I’m absolutely against pitch clocks or any clocks at all in baseball. One of the beautiful aspects about baseball is that there is no time

Oct. 14, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Detailed view of the pitch clock being tested as Houston Astros pitcher Mark Appel throws during an Arizona Fall League game between the Surprise Saguaros against the Salt River Rafters at Salt River Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

limits or clocks unlike the other three major sports. The game plays itself out differently each time. There’s no interference from time constraints which ultimately affect how the game unfolds. Baseball is still pure as far as natural progression. The game will always end…eventually.

A pitch clock in baseball would be a niggling and annoying digital distraction. I don’t want to be glancing at a clock counting down every time Clayton Kershaw winds up. Oh the horror.

We should know this better than anyone being Dodger fans. There’s been plenty of times when I’m trying to keep my eyes open during late night Dodger games during extra innings. The Dodgers topped the National League in long games at one point last season. Last May the Dodgers were sent a warning letter from executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre citing a number of Dodger pitchers for their violations of baseball’s “pace of game” regulations. Some of the Dodger relievers were cited for taking too long to get to the mound when entering the game from the bullpen.

When asked about the delays, manager Don Mattingly said he doesn’t even think about it.

"“I don’t ever think about it,” he said. “I know when you have a nice, clean game things seem to move along better.”"

The longest Dodger game last season was on September 3, 2014 at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers lost 8-5 to the Washington Nationals in 14 innings which took 5 hours and 34 minutes. The Dodgers also had another five hour plus game back on May 1st which lasted 5 hours and 11 minutes. Their shortest game was on June 8th and sped by in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Their two fastest games were of course Clayton Kershaw starts. Carlos Frias and Red Patterson started the two longest games interestingly.

Unfortunately we can’t have quick, clean Clayton Kershaw shutouts every night.

Jon Lester recently spoke out against the usage of pitch clocks during a Cubs fan convention.

"“If you [use a pitch clock] you take the beauty out of the game,” Lester said Friday night. “There’s such a cat-and-mouse game as far as messing up hitters’ timing, messing up pitchers’ timing. Different things that fans and people that have never played this game don’t understand. I feel like if you do add a clock it just takes all the beauty away from the game. I think you’re going down a path you don’t want to go down. It’s a beautiful sport. There’s no time limit, there’s no shot clock. There’s no nothing. For me, I’ve always been a big believer in the fans know what they’re getting themselves into when they show up. If it’s a three-hour game it’s a three-hour game. If it’s a five-hour game it’s a five-hour game.”"

Clocks in general tend to make me nervous. Alarm clocks, stop watches…tick tock… Shaving off ten minutes during a game doesn’t seem like it’s worth it to me. When I’m watching a game on television, listening on the radio or attending a game in person I’m not in a rush so why should the players be?

Can you imagine a pitch clock violation during the World Series? Clayton Kershaw is readying to pitch to Hanley Ramirez (a Red Sox now of course) in Game 7 with the bases loaded, 2 outs, 3-2 count… Hanley steps out of the batter’s box, Kersh steps off the mound, they lock back up, staring each other down…uh oh the clock turned RED…BALL FOUR!