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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The clock is ticking for pitchers, and there are concerns

The umpires are the key to having this make an impact.

Then again, the minor league rules allow you to step off the rubber if you get close to the time limit, and the clock restarts. Nobody knows if this will be implemented. Apparently, the 20-second clock starts when the pitcher receives the ball from the catcher, and if the batter is messing around outside the batter’s box as the clock ticks away, “It would be up to the umpire to make sure the batters get in the box,” according to Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. And Red Sox principal owner John Henry said, “And the pitcher could throw a pitch if the batter wasn’t in the box.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 19, 2019 at 08:21 AM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: pitch clocks, red sox

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   1. Jose is an Absurd Kahuna Posted: February 19, 2019 at 08:53 AM (#5816312)
They need to be really strict about it to make it work. The NHL implemented some pretty strict changes about 15 years ago to hooking and holding rules. For the first few months guys were getting called for penalties a LOT but as the year (and years) went on things settled down as players realized where the thresholds were.
   2. . Posted: February 19, 2019 at 10:16 AM (#5816330)
The pitcher should be able to throw a pitch essentially whenever he wants and if the batter is dilly-dallying, then tough titties. On the flip side, the pitcher should obviously not be able to step off the rubber after 19 seconds. Norms will eventually develop wherein pitchers won't for fear of being (rightfully) ridiculed and belittled.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2019 at 10:33 AM (#5816334)
Pitch clock. With runners on base, too. No stepping off. Time starts when the catcher has the ball. Pitcher can throw at any time in that period. Batter isn't ready? Too damn bad. That is the only way to convey that they are serious about this stuff.

It's really that simple. HOW is this so ####### hard???
   4. Rusty Priske Posted: February 19, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5816345)
This is such a bad idea.
   5. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: February 19, 2019 at 12:33 PM (#5816385)
It's really that simple. HOW is this so ####### hard???
Because there are multiple constituencies--hitters, pitchers, umpires, managers, owners, league office--who each have different concerns and priorities, and no one has gotten them all together to agree to your "that simple" plan?

Shorter answer: it's not that simple. And pretending that it is doesn't further the goal. (Which, for the record, I'm mostly on board with, though I don't much like the "quick pitch" potential of the "pitcher can throw at any time.")
   6. Brian C Posted: February 19, 2019 at 12:54 PM (#5816416)
My feeling is that there are basically two kinds of people who run around saying "Why won't everyone do exactly what I want IT'S SO SIMPLE":

1. Crackpots

OK actually just one kind.
   7. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2019 at 12:55 PM (#5816417)
Because there are multiple constituencies--hitters, pitchers, umpires, managers, owners, league office--who each have different concerns and priorities, and no one has gotten them all together to agree to your "that simple" plan?
And one party, Rob Manfred, has the power to unilaterally implement a plan for 2019 (I believe this is still true, anyway). No agreement necessary. Priorities other than "we need to be serious about cutting down on the time-wasting" are just self-interest and/or laziness, and should be dismissed as such. Players complain? Too bad. Umpires don't want to enforce it? Consequences for the umpires. It really is that simple, if Manfred were to grow a pair.

EDIT: I guess I have to put a "P.S. I am not a crackpot" in here, right?
   8. Brian C Posted: February 19, 2019 at 01:08 PM (#5816431)
EDIT: I guess I have to put a "P.S. I am not a crackpot" in here, right?

Yes, I think so. The reasons why Manfred would be hesitant to unilaterally implement something that affects multiple constituencies who oppose (or at least have concerns over) it with a "too bad!!" are perfectly obvious to anyone that doesn't share the monomaniacal obsession that you've demonstrated on this issue for years now.

Seriously.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 19, 2019 at 01:20 PM (#5816442)
Yes, I think so. The reasons why Manfred would be hesitant to unilaterally implement something that affects multiple constituencies who oppose (or at least have concerns over) it with a "too bad!!" are perfectly obvious to anyone that doesn't share the monomaniacal obsession that you've demonstrated on this issue for years now.

The thing is, none of those constituencies has a legitimate concern. Baseball was played with 10 seconds between pitches for 100 years, before the slow decline to 25 seconds happened. Everyone will adjust, and it is the the benefit of all.

This is exactly the kind of issue where the commissioner needs to just ram through the change. By next season, it will be a non-issue. Probably by June.
   10. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 19, 2019 at 01:26 PM (#5816448)
Players who have played with a pitch clock mostly like it and it shaves a few minutes off game times. Strongly favor - they're unobtrusive, it doesn't impair watching the game...
   11. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 19, 2019 at 01:28 PM (#5816451)
And one party, Rob Manfred, has the power to unilaterally implement a plan for 2019 . . .

And why would one think that Rob "I'll Consider Anything" Manfred is likely to get it right? A bit strange that some want MLB to start with the strictest, least flexible version of a pitch clock rule. Prudence might dictate starting from the other end of spectrum.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2019 at 01:29 PM (#5816452)
Welcome to my monomaniacal obsession, I guess, Snapper...
   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2019 at 01:29 PM (#5816453)
And why would one think that Rob "I'll Consider Anything" Manfred is likely to get it right?
Oh, I don't think that at all. Quite the opposite. But wishy-washy rules with a million loopholes don't create actual change. That's what is indeed probably going to happen, and it's not getting it right.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 19, 2019 at 01:55 PM (#5816477)
Welcome to my monomaniacal obsession, I guess, Snapper...

Thanks for having me!

Oh, I don't think that at all. Quite the opposite. But wishy-washy rules with a million loopholes don't create actual change. That's what is indeed probably going to happen, and it's not getting it right.

The rule actually already exists. They just need to enforce it.
   15. BillWallace Posted: February 19, 2019 at 03:53 PM (#5816570)
I'm with the crackpots, mostly.

I would bend to a slightly more flexible initial version, just to allow an adjustment period. But I'm all for going to something strict and quickly, and having it be done unilaterally.

I'm very onboard with the batters needing to be ready. If you don't want to be quick pitched, then get in your gd stance and be ready to hit.

It's true of all sports, the players want to think/rest/prepare as much as possible because that makes them perform better. And if you let them, they will. But I don't want to watch players think for an hour to play for 30 minutes. So I want to rules to prevent them from taking time to think..... now.


   16. Powderhorn™, arrogant local sailing champion Posted: February 19, 2019 at 06:17 PM (#5816638)
Crackpot here. I also think that the solution is extremely simple, keeping in mind that "simple" does not imply "easy". And it would require no rule changes. If the batter asks for time the umpire doesn't have to grant it. And there's already a rule on the books setting a time limit for pitchers. Get the umps to enforce the existing rules. That's all it takes.

Now, for whatever reason, the umps do not want to enforce these rules and MLB has shown no interest in offering a carrot or a stick to get them to do so. The humans in charge have decided to do nothing, so we might as well hand over the job to a clock.
   17. . Posted: February 19, 2019 at 06:23 PM (#5816639)
The whole point of the clock is to change the dawdling practices of one of the main "constituencies" involved. One "constituency" wants to dawdle and play really slow; a more sensible constituency wants them not to do that.

Hardly "crackpot" to acknowledge that obvious truth.
   18. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: February 19, 2019 at 06:24 PM (#5816640)
Crackpots of the world, unite!
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 19, 2019 at 07:01 PM (#5816644)
The whole point of the clock is to change the dawdling practices of one of the main "constituencies" involved. One "constituency" wants to dawdle and play really slow; a more sensible constituency wants them not to do that.


Except said "dawdling" is already against the black letter rules.

When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.”


All Manfred needs to do is to instruct the umps to enforce it.
   20. JAHV Posted: February 19, 2019 at 07:09 PM (#5816647)
I'll throw my pot in the ring, which is fine because it is also already cracked.

I didn't get past this paragraph in the full article:

Baseball has a natural flow and beauty to it. What’s made games longer are analytics and not-so-instant replay. Analytics have put more thought into every pitch and every at-bat. Pitchers need time to process things between pitches. While there are pitchers such as Wade Miley who get the ball and throw it, most are like Price, needing that extra time to process what they’re about to do with the hitter.


Yes, baseball does have a natural flow and beauty. Well, it did until pitchers and batters decided to hack that flow to bits by delaying and adjusting and pacing and contemplating and futzing and putzing and just generally loitering for thirty seconds between each pitch. Yes, analytics have put more thought into pitches. That thought should be, "I should throw a slider here." Or "I should hit the ball hard here." Neither of those thoughts takes thirty seconds to contemplate.

I don't disagree that instant replay could be handled better to reduce delays, but the main problem is pitchers taking too damn long. Make them stop and the game will reacquire that beauty and flow.

   21. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 19, 2019 at 07:49 PM (#5816661)
OK, where is the crackpot queue? I need to get in that sucker now.
   22. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2019 at 11:55 PM (#5816708)
Let the record show that I was a crackpot before it was cool.
   23. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 20, 2019 at 12:10 AM (#5816709)
Let the record show that I was a crackpot before it was cool.


Actually as the original crackpot you were cool, now it's just full of middle-aged men trying to be cool by sporting young person's haircuts and too tight pants....and of course now no longer cool.

I'm now going to segway toward the tinfoil hat brigade...where the f*ck are they anyway?
   24. Man o' Schwar Posted: February 20, 2019 at 12:52 AM (#5816711)
My only real issue with this is that the bulk of the time wasting and futzing and putzing happens with men on base. That's when you see pitchers shake off, shake off, step off, walk behind the mound, etc. Most guys work relatively quickly with no one on. Even Steve Trachsel didn't really go into the tank until he let someone on base. It's after that that his games became a total slog.

If you limit this to bases empty situations only, you'll get a little savings, but not as much as you might get if you tried it with runners on. Maybe a slightly longer clock (25 seconds instead of 20) with runners on base. But something.

(Also - if the clock starts when the ball gets back to the pitcher, what's to stop catchers from giving a pitcher an extra 5-10 seconds of breather between pitches just by holding the ball after the pitch, examining it, checking for scuffs, maybe asking for a new ball, etc. Maybe we'll limit that like mound visits - a catcher can only ask for a new ball 6 times during a game.

While we're at it, let's limit batter timeouts as well - one per plate appearance. After that, you gotta be ready.)

(And obviously you can't have the rule be all that the pitcher has to do is step off to restart the clock. That's no rule at all. You'll just get guys stepping off the rubber and wasting time rather than standing on the rubber and wasting time.)
   25. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 20, 2019 at 01:07 AM (#5816714)
Sounds like you’ve gone full crackpot, Man O’Schwar. Welcome to the club.
   26. BillWallace Posted: February 20, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5816849)
One of the advantages of restricting time with men on is that it will encourage running more. It will also demand more preparation by the battery+1b to be in sync with how to deal with runners. The ideal would be that Billy Hamilton just got to first base, now you're under pressure. You've got to transition to worrying about him without screwing up your rhythm with the next batter, and you can't molest the rosin bag for 30 seconds to get your head around it, so you actually have to be prepared before hand.

The downside would be that it may encourage a routine of a pitcher always immediately doing 1-2 lazy throws over to first, just to settle themselves and figure out what they really want to do.
   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 20, 2019 at 03:56 PM (#5816907)
The downside would be that it may encourage a routine of a pitcher always immediately doing 1-2 lazy throws over to first, just to settle themselves and figure out what they really want to do.
...which is where the old Bill James idea of charging a ball for every (unsuccessful) pickoff throw after, I think, the second (?) comes in. There really is a small set of straightforward changes that, if implemented together, would go a very long way to solving the time-wasting. And probably encouraging a more exciting style of play as well.
   28. BillWallace Posted: February 20, 2019 at 04:23 PM (#5816915)
charging a ball for every (unsuccessful) pickoff throw


I'm ok with this line of thinking, but I acknowledge that this is treading into territory that many are going to feel is intrusive legislation and "changing the game", even more than a pitch clock.

It might be the eggs that we have to break to get an omelette made in less than 4 hours, but it is a cost.
   29. Powderhorn™, arrogant local sailing champion Posted: February 20, 2019 at 07:57 PM (#5816968)
If I'm being realistic, I would prefer implementing just the pitch clock. Let's change one variable and see what the results are before we change anything else. If I'm just being a fan, I am completely with the 24-28 omlette.
obviously you can't have the rule be all that the pitcher has to do is step off to restart the clock. That's no rule at all.
Especially this.

Also, why does a reliever need so many warmup pitches? One or two, maybe, but you don't need 8 pitches to get the feel of a mound. Let's limit the first pitcher who comes in in the middle of an inning to 6 warmup pitches. The second man gets 3, and anyone after that gets none.
   30. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 20, 2019 at 11:53 PM (#5816994)
I'm ok with this line of thinking, but I acknowledge that this is treading into territory that many are going to feel is intrusive legislation and "changing the game", even more than a pitch clock.

It might be the eggs that we have to break to get an omelette made in less than 4 hours, but it is a cost.
Fair enough- I think that any ‘change in the game’ would be minimal and only to the good, and certainly nowhere near enough to outweigh the gains. But let’s at least implement the reform and have a chance to see what happens. If there are unintended consequences, they can be addressed with a ‘clarification’ of the rule as happened with the new sliding rules. Paralysis by fear of unintended consequences is a terrible option.
   31. BillWallace Posted: February 21, 2019 at 12:23 PM (#5817085)
Yeah, and as always, the best answer to the "cant change the game crowd" is that the majority of the rule changes over the last hundred years, and there have been many, have been of the type:

'Someone figured out that they can gain an advantage by doing X but it's kind of a crappy change to the game, so let's outlaw X so that the game is better.'
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: February 21, 2019 at 12:59 PM (#5817096)
It's true of all sports, the players want to think/rest/prepare as much as possible because that makes them perform better. And if you let them, they will.


But if pitchers think it helps them to rest AND betters think it helps them, then forcing them to play faster shouldn't make either group necessarily perform worse.

The only ones I can think of who might actually have a case are relievers who need to throw 98 on every pitch to be successful, so taking more time between pitches does benefit them. But I think I speak for everyone sane when I say #### those guys.
   33. . Posted: February 21, 2019 at 01:04 PM (#5817100)
If it's actually true that the extra rest time between reps is driving up velocities, then not only is slow play bad in itself, but it's also had very deleterious knock-off effects on the game on the field. If it indeed has had those on the field impacts, there's even more reason to want a pitch clock.

If these kinds of pitch velos and bat speeds are only possible because of the extra rest the players have misappropriated to themselves -- as very much appears to be their argument -- we've basically devolved from farce to utter circus.

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