MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has his eye on the pitch clock again. During the Owners Meetings on Friday, Manfred talked at length about his desire to improve the pace of play, citing the need for an “ongoing effort” to shorten games in order to make them more appealing to fans.
Per MLB.com’s Paul Hagen, that could mean the resurfacing of the pitch clock, which limits pitchers to a 20-second delivery window. It’s a method that has only been experimented with in the minor leagues so far, shortening games by as many as 16 minutes. Despite its effectiveness, there have been many arguments against implementing the pitch clock on a big league-level. It has the potential to be overly distracting, both to players and to crowds. Some players think it could rush the hitter or negatively affect a pitcher’s arm, while others think it affords pitchers an excessive amount of time to deliver a pitch. Still others, both players and fans, don’t see anything wrong with a more leisurely pace of play — even the kind that breeds four-hour, 32-minute NLDS-clinching marathons.
Nothing looks close to being agreed upon at this point, though discussions between the owners and players’ association are ongoing. Manfred suggested that there may be multiple approaches to the issue, which is one he feels that “players, owner, umpires — everyone who is invested in this game” should be concerned with. Whether or not he receives the kind of collaboration and compromise he’s seeking remains to be seen.
They played the Futures Game yesterday, pitting the top prospects from the United States against the top prospects from the rest of the world. You most likely missed it because, for reasons that have still yet to be adequately explained to me, the game takes place on Sunday afternoon, when literally all 30 major league teams are in action. Oh well.
If you did happen to see it, however, you saw a lot of bombast, as the two teams combined for eight home runs, with Team USA prevailing, 10-6. It was the United States’ eighth win in the past nine Futures Games.
Yusniel Diaz of the Dodgers system hit two homers — he was the first one to do that in a Futures Game since Alfonso Soriano did it back in 1999 — but Taylor Trammell of the Reds system was the game MVP following his 2-for-2 (HR, 3B) performance. Other highlights involved Reds pitching prospect Hunter Greene, who threw 19 fastballs among his 27 pitches, each and every one of them hitting triple digits, with one registering at 103.1 m.p.h. Not that velocity is everything: a 102.3 m.p.h. pitch he threw ended up being deposited over the fence for a two-run homer by Luis Alexander Basabe of the White Sox system.
Also of note was a homer from Ke’Bryan Hayes of the Pirates system. Notable for it breaking a tie and putting the U.S. up by two, but also notable because Ke’Bryan is the son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes. Feel old yet?
There was a lot of back and forth, and certainly a lot of bombast, but the U.S. took its final lead on a wild pitch. Here are some highlights:
Here’s hoping, in the future, the Futures Game is moved to Sunday evening or even Monday where people will have a better chance of seeing it.