Late last night, Robert Murray of MLB Daily Rumors broke the inevitable news that the 2015 season will see 20-second pitch clocks implemented at the AA and AAA levels across the country. This is a pretty remarkably quick move on a series of rule changes already implemented with varying levels of success in the Arizona Fall League, and it seems only a matter of time until we see a variation of the technology in major league stadiums--perhaps as soon as 2016, according to some reports.
By now I'm sure you are familiar with the basics of how pitch clocks work, and if not, most of the information can be gleaned simply by hearing the words "Pitch Clock" said in consecutive order. But it's actually a little more interesting than that--the twenty second limit is not set to demarcate time between pitches thrown, but it rather counts down the amount of time for a pitcher to get into set position against the pitching rubber from rest. Here is a brief video showing a clock in operation in the Arizona Fall League:
The pitch clock is the brainchild of Major League Baseball's new "Pace of Game" Committee, which has been actively exploring ways to reduce the average time of baseball games to better suit the sport to an adapting media environment punctuated by broadcast schedules and supposedly deteriorating attention spans. Last September, the committee noted that the average elapsed time of a Major League Baseball game increased from 2:40 in 1984 to a whopping 3:08 in thirty years, a timespan which notably saw no other changes like heightened corporate advertising during commercial breaks on new team-owned billion dollar cable television channels, increased concern by team doctors to prevent and evaluate on-field injuries during gameplay, or varying styles of athletic performance due to the rise and fall of a league-wide anabolic steroid scandal.
Despite that garish blinking red light in the corner of that video, the clock's implementation was actually met with little pushback from players and coaches in the Arizona Fall League this season, which shaved off ten average minutes of gameplay from the season before its use. Of course, the AFL also experimented with a myriad of other time-shaving devices such as limiting mound visits, eliminating intentional walk pitches, requiring batters to stay in the box at nearly all times, and setting a time limit for pitching changes. Those additional variables, compounded with the fact that the AFL plays less than 35 games, makes it just about impossible to determine the pitching clock's efficacy with any true authority. So that's why it's going to the minors, with all those other rule changes in tow.
Although it only seems like a matter of time until there is a gigantic red light counting down from twenty behind Safeco's home plate, it seems silly to imagine baseball fast-tracking the other obtrusive changes into the majors with the approval of the player's union. Still, you're going to be basking in its red glow down in Tacoma next year, and any Major League player rehabbing is going to have to abide by them whether they like it or not. What do you think?