As several games dragged on well past the three and four hour mark this postseason, fans active online increasingly chattered about the need for a pitch clock, rules limiting mound visits or some other means of moving things along.
Today at the owners meetings down in Florida, MLB’s Chief Legal Officer, Dan Halem, told members of the press that the league would like to get a get a new pace-of-play agreement with MLBPA done that could include a pitch clock. In order to have something in place for the 2018 season, Halem said, an agreement would have to be reached by early January. Halem also added that other measures — such as reworked inning breaks with split screen broadcast, not unlike we saw during the postseason, could be a part of the pace-of-play measures as well.
Back in August, the players signaled to Major League Baseball, for the first time, that they were willing to work with the league on the implementation of a pitch clock. There are still details that would have to be hammered out — players want input on certain aspects of its implementation, such as whether or not it will run with players on base, for example — but their basic acceptance of the idea seemed to be a corner-turning event.
In the past few years there have been several rules changes negotiated, agreed upon and implemented in between the end of the season and before January, such as changes to the slide rules, changes to plate-blocking rules and the announcement of new guidelines about protective netting. It would not, therefore, be impossible for the league and its players to agree on a pitch clock and have it place for next season.
As for the desirability of a pitch clock: there has been one in the minor leagues for a couple of years now. Based on my experience as a Triple-A fan and the experience of virtually everyone I’ve spoken to, its implementation has been smooth, to the point where it’s hardly noticeable. You can count on one hand the number of times a pitcher has been given an automatic ball for not throwing a pitch within the specified time in the course of a season and, overall, the pace of play seems to have picked up considerably. In any event, it’s far preferable to the seemingly interminable lulls in action between pitches that we saw this past October.