Baseball announced today that in the 2015 season, Double A and Triple A teams will now be under the authority of pitcher’s “shot clock.” In essence, the pitcher will have about 20 seconds (exact rules have not been decided yet) to deliver the ball to the plate after receiving it from the catcher. A violation of the rule will result in a ball. And as always, the authorities from up high have declared this is in the interest of speeding up the game and continuing to lure younger fans. If all goes well, the MLB will negotiate this rule into the majors when the next collective bargaining agreement is ratified.
I would love to go in depth on how there is already a rule that governs the length of time a pitcher has to deliver a ball (See rule 8.04 and then sit back and laugh for about 37 minutes), but let’s be honest: that’s a waste of time.
In reality, what we should be talking about is the conflict of interest that the commissioner’s office continues to exhibit. Every year, the commissioner’s office comes out with a new concern for the game related to its entertainment factor which boils down to a) faster games, and b) increase of offensive production. But the problem is that these two concerns are fundamentally opposed. You can’t score more runs and make the game faster. It’s a fact. But baseball continues to do everything it can in it’s power, including changing the rules, in order to make the game faster and still ramp up offensive production.
The cycle most recently ran it’s course after the ’94 strike when the powers that be were scrambling to make the game more exciting and bring back their fans. “NOT ENOUGH RUNS!” they yelled, and then they looked the other way while our heroes filled themselves with enough steroids to turn your uncle into your aunt. “THIS LOOKS BAD! MARK MCGWIRE’S HEAD MIGHT EXPLODE!” they realized, and then made an example out of anyone who came near the stuff before they had ever made rules outlawing steroids (sorry A-Rod). “KEY PLAYERS ARE GETTING HURT!” they exclaimed after the magic of HGH was no longer allowed, and so they attempted to make the game safer. This culminated in baseball outlawing the most exciting play in baseball (Shout out to Rick Dempsey trash talking the Boz in this clip). “WE’RE STILL NOT SCORING ENOUGH RUNS! MAYBE IT’S THE UMPS FAULT!” so they practically reduced the 1B umpire to a well placed camera, making the game longer, but also resulting in a few extra runs over the season.
So when they start to complain about the length of games (which notably increased most dramatically in the 70’s after compacting the strike zone AND lowering the mound), they think the right move is to once again give the advantage to the hitter by rushing the pitcher.
Eventually, baseball is going to realize that a “shot clock” is going to have little to no affect on shortening the game. If anything, it’s going to make for longer games, and more pitchers throwing out their arms because they are rushing their deliveries.
So I’m calling it: 2 balls, 2 strikes will be the new full count in 2020. Just you watch.