For better & worse, the new MLB rulebook

There are plenty of changes coming to major league baseball and there’s no shortage of stupid ones. (Bigger bases, really?)

But unless you are one of these staunch traditionalists who think the boys should be dressed in wool uniforms, you’ll need to start accepting some of the changes as they come. Some have merit and some are dispensed with almost as soon as they are invoked. (Copying the softball extra inning rule was an insult to everyone’s intelligence.)

Stay with me here – the pitch clock is a good thing. And they oughta put a pitch clock on the pitch clock to get it implemented as soon as possible.

It’s already being used at various levels of college and minor league baseball, so it’s not going to be a shock to the system of the next generation of major leaguers.

Look, there are a lot of rule changes that either affect the fabric of the game or come way too close. I hate the shift as much as anybody, but legislating against it seems to be an affront to Abner Doubleday or whoever it is they now think invented baseball. (As it turns out, it is now believed that the only thing Abner started was the Civil War.)

Trust me on this one – you will hardly even notice the difference in a game with the pitch clock. Except that you’ll be getting home a lot sooner.

I’ve seen some Double-A games with the pitch clock and here’s what I haven’t noticed – the clock. Usually it’s tucked away on the scoreboard, where you have to be looking for it to find it, and also located behind home plate, where only the defense can see it.

Here’s what you will notice – batters staying in the batter’s box between pitches. You mean you don’t have to adjust your batting gloves after every pitch? What a novel concept!

You will also notice that if there is a sign to be given, it isn’t relayed six times among managers, coaches, the bullpen catcher and the traveling secretary. The count is 3-0 … you could just yell out “TAKE!” and no one would even notice.

Pitchers don’t walk around the mound like caged animals or ponder the merits of the resin bag after every pitch. The catcher throws it back and they get ready for the next pitch. Simple as that.

The games I’ve seen have had limits of 15/20 (15-second limit with no one on base and 20 with runners.) There’s even been talk of a 13/18 clock. If the clock runs out, the umpire decides who is at fault. If it’s the pitcher, it’s an automatic ball. If it’s the batter, automatic strike. But you’ll go weeks and never see it called.

The adjustment is immediate for the pitchers and the batters and the game certainly has a better pace to it. Next time you watch a major league game on DVR and you have one of those 30-second advance buttons, use that and see how many times the next pitch still hasn’t been thrown. Now think about how much quicker the game would be if you cut that in half. In a game with 250-300 pitches, it adds up.

If MLB wanted to get really serious about it, it could eliminate the time between innings or pitching changes very easily. Right now, it varies between 2:05 and 2:55, but they could take one of those 30-second commercial spots and play it on a split screen after an out is made. (Golf and football both do this now.) You’d still have the $$$ from the ad but it would lessen the time between half-innings.

Run the numbers – there are at least 17 half-innings in a game, multiplied by 30 seconds each. Throw in a few pitching changes and that’s 10 minutes right there.

The average length of a baseball game hasn’t been under 3:00 in 10 years (it was 3:11 in 2021). Baseball can fix its other problems later; fix this one now.

Before time runs out.