The New MLB Pitch Clock Rule

The automatic clock behind home plate is clearly visible in this photo. (

The automatic clock behind home plate is clearly visible in this photo. (

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The Pitch Clock Rule is a new rule added last year by Major League Baseball (MLB) that has caused a large controversy in the baseball world. Should it be a rule or not? The new rule has earned the disapproval of many of the league’s top players and managers, and most people tend to be either in favor or against it with few undecided.

Why have a pitch timer? The goal of the many pace-of-play rules added to MLB this year was to speed up the game itself and to sustain the attention of some of the fans. As pitchers take their time and find their rhythm, the games in MLB are taking longer than in years past.

What is the rule exactly? Automatic clocks are strategically placed behind the center field wall, in the dugouts, and behind home plate. The timers are set for 20 seconds from the time the pitcher receives the ball from the catcher, and the pitchers have to release the ball before the timer runs out. If the pitcher does not release the baseball, an automatic “ball” is called for the batter. Likewise, a batter is required to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box for the entire 20 seconds until the pitcher releases the ball. An alternate part of this rule involves when the pitcher is warming up or when there is a pitching change. The timer is then set for 2:25, and play should resume after this time is up.

You might ask, “What do the players think?” Seattle Mariners’ shortstop Willie Bloomquist said, “In theory, the concept is good to try and speed the game up, but I think to have to put rules on it is a little bit of a stretch.” San Diego Padres’ manager Bud Black was worried, and said this to the media, “You don’t want to let the pace of play interfere with conversations between a pitcher and a catcher, or from a pitching coach talking about strategy. Those are the things I think we worry about when you talk about pace of play.” As you can see, there is a high rate of disapproval among the players and managers. As David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox said, “When you force a hitter to keep his feet in the batter’s box, 70 percent of the time you’re out, because you don’t have time to think. And the only time you have to think about things is that time. So, I don’t know how this baseball game is going to end up.”

I also asked some of Rectory’s baseball enthusiasts how they felt about the new rule. Faculty member, Mr. Zerpa, a former baseball player himself, shared his opinion. “I like the rule because it keeps fans engaged, since many are migrating towards the faster sport of lacrosse. It is more than enough time for the pitcher.”

Fifth-grade student Justin M. said, “ I don’t like it because it messes with the pitcher’s tempo, and I think it should be their choice of how long they take to deliver the ball.” This opinion was by far the most common, as Mrs. Shattuck and Mr. Healy also openly oppose the rule. Mrs. Shattuck thinks, “It’s hard enough as it is to pitch and bat in the major leagues,” and she thinks the rule will change the quality of the pitching, which will change the quality of the games.

This is a very controversial rule, but as the reader, you have a choice. Which do you choose? Is it a good rule to have from now on, or does it change the game of baseball in a negative way?

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