The new MLB pitch clock is obnoxious
The introduction of a pitch clock in Major League Baseball is a long overdue change needed to attract younger viewers. We already know it won’t have a significant impact on offensive performance, if any, but it makes the games faster paced and easier to watch. Or at least we hoped it would.
Friday the first day of MLB spring training was marked by two games between the Texans Rangers and Kansas City The Royals as well as Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres. These games are MLB fans’ first introduction to the pitch clock.
Look now. I like the pitch class idea. Its positive effect is undeniable. Holy still smokes, it’s huge and right in our face! It’s so distracting off the bat! This is terrible!
I know this clock is new to MLB, but there is a finesse to the implementation and presentation of the information to the fans. When NFL fans watch games, they are always aware of what the game clock is showing. Even though the numbers don’t glow yellow directly in our line of sight, a small graphic with a countdown clock at the bottom of the screens is more than enough to keep fans aware of the situation. In the NBA, the shot clock is always visible to fans watching from home, even if the clock doesn’t have to be plastered in the paint at both ends of the court. This news may come as a shock to MLB given how the pitch clock has been presented in spring training until now, but it’s such an obvious change that I don’t understand why MLB didn’t figure this out before spring training started.
Now anyone can raise two counterarguments. First, just because that’s how it’s being presented today, doesn’t mean that’s where the hours will be placed on opening day. I really hope so because I don’t know how I could survive a game with these shiny numbers in my face. It feels like opening the phone at full brightness in the middle of the night. Maybe I’m so used to no-numbers broadcasts that my subconscious hates their presence, but I doubt that’s the case. I can only hope they move the clock elsewhere in the Major Leagues before Opening Day on March 30th.
Second argument: how are pitchers supposed to see the clock and know when to throw the next throw if the numbers aren’t right in front of them? It’s a valid concern, but I wouldn’t worry about it. In the video above, we can see that the pitcher never leaves the field before the clock hits five seconds. That may not seem like a lot of time, but consider that a full pitch is only 20 seconds. Given that the penalties for pitch clock violations are quite severe, I doubt most pitchers would even let the clock get very close to zero. Such decisions cannot be left to the referee’s discretion.
Also, just because the clock isn’t exactly on the pitcher’s nose doesn’t mean the pitcher won’t see it. Are you saying that if the clock was a few more feet to the left or on the other side of the plate, the pitcher would be lost? No. As long as it’s easy to see and not directly behind the batter on deck, the pitcher will be fine. As long as the placement of the clock is consistent from ball stand to ball court, there should be no problem.
For all that I’ve said, I think it’s a must for fans to pay attention to the pitch clock while watching games, but it should be an additional graphic on the ticker at the bottom of the screen, not a huge set of numbers taking up 20 percent of the game you’re trying to watch. Place it on the graph above the counter and display it as the clock reaches 15 seconds. It’s a simple fix and I’m sure the entire MLB fan can miss it. The league has over a month to make the change, so do it.