Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Remember in April when umpires complained about Red Sox/Yankees games lasting too long? I don't recall many people objecting. Well the Southeastern Conference has tried something to keep game lengths from getting out of hand: a pitch clock.

How it worked:
A clock in centerfield ticked from 20 seconds once the pitcher got the ball back from the catcher. The clock only ran when there were no runners on base. The batter had to be in the box with 5 seconds remaining. A violation by the pitcher would result in a ball added to the count. A violation by the batter would add a strike. There was also a 108 second clock that ran between innings.

How well it worked:
Excellently. There were no violations. Average time of game at the tournament was reduced by 15 minutes compared to the year before. Part of that was due to excellent starting pitching, but most of it was apparently due to the rushed pace brought about by the clock.

Could it work in the Majors?
I don't think so. The idea of clocks and baseball is irksome. It just doesn't feel right. And you'd never get the players to agree to it. College baseball can push players around, and the kids will hustle for the clock. Major Leaguers would push the limit of the clock, then bitch when penalized a strike or a ball.

But I do think the Majors could do something to make the games a bit shorter. Rather, to keep them from extending too long. But clocks aren't the answer. Limiting batters to 1 time-out per plate appearance, limiting catchers to 1 mound visit per inning (not counting visits with coaches), and cloning Mark Beuhrle. Those are the answers.


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