“Hurry Up And Pitch!” –2015

Photo Courtesy Salt River, and Minor League Baseball

Photo Courtesy Salt River, and Minor League Baseball

 

We’ve mentioned this before, but I hadn’t written about it–I think because I was hoping that it wouldn’t really happen.  Alas, my hopes were dashed.  The official announcement came through today on the Minor League Baseball web page:  Timers will be installed at minor league parks at the AA and AAA level.  New rules will be enforced in an effort to speed up the “pace of play.”  They first tried this in the Arizona Fall League this past year, and the results, I understand, were positive.

However, I don’t like it.  I don’t like it one little bit. Here are my thoughts, as of today, admittedly before I’ve had a chance to experience it in person at Coca Cola Park:

  1. It works counter to my raison d’être:  I go to the park to relax.  A constant clock ticking between every pitch and every inning removes my whole reason for going to the game in the first place.
  2. I don’t care how long the game is:  Look, some of those Yankees-Red Sox 4-hour deals on TV are completely un-watchable.  However, this isn’t that.  If I’m at the game, relaxing, and having a good time, it’s no problem how long the game is.  If I get tired–I’ll go home!  Hey, there’s another game tomorrow!
  3. The clocks are ugly:  Big, giant, illuminated clocks ticking down everywhere are going to harsh my buzz.  I’m telling you.  I haven’t seen the installations at Coca Cola Park or FirstEnergy in Reading yet, but I’m not hopeful.  And look at that picture above:  There’s a dude who has to sit behind that clock.  If they put a clock in front of my seat in 209, I’m going to be very angry!
  4. It’s really not necessary:  Tell the umpires to enforce the rules and give them the ability to penalize infractions, and you can accomplish the exact same thing.  Many of the rules you’ll see below are already on the books.  Let the umpire enforce it, and penalize him (via lack of call up to the next level) if he doesn’t.
  5. It’s for the wrong reason:  Kurt Landes has already said that the between-innings shenanigans (read: entertainment) are always within the allotted time, anyway.  People who go to Minor League games don’t complain about the length.  The only folks worried about the pace of play in Minor League ball are the people who work in Minor League Baseball.  And I’m not singling out the IronPigs here:  as one of the top draws in MiLB, the ‘Pigs should want the game to be longer.  It’s more chance to sell beers and nachos and pork-products!  And any person who inhabits the press box and complains about the length of the game is irrelevant anyway.
  6. Now we’re talking about the wrong thing:  We’ll have more on this going forward, I’m sure.  But it’s not what I want to write or talk about.  It’s already detracting from the time we could spend talking about the players and the team and the game.

Here’s the official stuff, from the league:

 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor League Baseball today announced rules and procedures aimed at improving the pace of play in games at the Triple-A and Double-A levels.

The procedures, created in partnership with Major League Baseball, will monitor the time taken between innings and pitches, and will limit the amount of time allowed during pitching changes. Umpires will continue to enforce rules prohibiting batters from leaving the batter’s box between pitches.

Timers have been installed at all Triple-A and Double-A parks in plain view of umpires, players and fans to monitor the pace of play and determine when violations occur. The month of April will serve as a grace period, with players receiving warnings for infractions. Beginning May 1, rules will be enforced as written. The regulations and penalties for non-compliance are listed below.

INNING BREAKS

  • Inning breaks will be two minutes, 25 seconds in duration. The first batter of an inning is encouraged to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with 20 seconds left on the inning break timer. The pitcher must begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position at any point within the last 20 seconds of the 2:25 break.
  • Beginning May 1, should the pitcher fail to begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position in the last 20 seconds of the inning break, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 1-0 count.
  • Beginning May 1, should the batter fail to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with five or more seconds remaining on the inning break timer, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 0-1 count.
  • Umpires will have the authority to grant extra time between innings should special circumstances arise.
  • The inning break timer will begin with the final out of the previous half-inning. For inning breaks during which God Bless America or any patriotic song is played in which all action in the ballpark stops (similar to the national anthem), the timer will begin at the conclusion of the song.

PITCHING CHANGES

  • The pitching change timer shall begin as soon as the relief pitcher crosses the warning track (or foul line for on-field bullpens) to enter the game.
  • In the event a pitching change occurs during an inning break, the timer shall reset as soon as the relief pitcher crosses the warning track (or foul line for on-field bullpens).
  • Umpires have the authority to reset the timer at their discretion.
  • Beginning May 1, should the pitcher fail to begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position in the last 20 seconds of the pitching change break, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 1-0 count.
  • Beginning May 1, should the batter fail to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with five or more seconds remaining on the pitching change timer, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 0-1 count.

20-SECOND PITCH TIMER

  • Pitchers will be allowed 20 seconds to begin their wind-up or the motion to come to the set position.
  • The pitcher does not necessarily have to release the ball within 20 seconds, but must begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position to comply with the 20-second rule.
  • For the first pitch of an at-bat, the timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
  • The timer will stop as soon as the pitcher begins his wind-up, or begins the motion to come to the set position.
  • If the pitcher feints a pick off or steps off the rubber with runners on base, the timer shall reset and start again immediately.
  • Umpires have the authority to stop the 20-second timer and order a reset.
  • Following any event (e.g., pick-off play) that permits the batter to leave the batter’s box, the timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
  • Following an umpire’s call of “time” or if the ball becomes dead and the batter remains at-bat, the timer shall start when the pitcher is on the pitcher’s plate and the batter is in the batter’s box, alert to the pitcher.
  • Beginning May 1, should the pitcher fail to begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position in 20 seconds, a ball will be awarded to the count on the batter.

“Minor League Baseball is excited to implement the pace of game initiatives at the Triple-A and Double-A levels of our organization,” said Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner. “We feel the emphasis on pace will lead to more fan enjoyment and better play on the field and is another example of the cooperative relationship between our leagues and Major League Baseball in the advancement of player development.”

 

See you at the park–without my watch on,

@Kram209

 



Categories: Coca Cola Park, Kram's Korner - From the Club Level

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6 replies

  1. Booo! This is unconscionable (look it up)! We must rise up and voice (loudly and continually) our contempt for this change!!!

  2. I’d like to hear the Minor League President explain WHY “the emphasis on pace” will lead to “better play on the field” — I expect a mountain of BS that will stink to high heaven, make no mistake.

    I’d also like to know what is the point to having an opinion on this subject, anyway? Just like everything else here in Minor League Purgatory : Philadelphia-style, this ‘pitch clock’ will be shoved down our throats whether we like it or not.

    Please, doesn’t anybody have anything remotely related to bacon so they can sell it to me at an inflated price?

  3. My personal opinion. This is for TV networks. No one benefits from this other than them. Fans, nope. Players rushed, nope. Teams having to pay employees overtime, nope. This comes down to TV networks having to delay regularly scheduled programming due to time overages. Read as, “If Baseball is on we get X amount of advertising money. If (add popular show) is on we get XXXXXXX amount of advertising money.” Doesn’t impact me as there is a monopoly on MLB broadcasts out of Philadelphia so I say.. harumph.

  4. Truth be told, this doesn’t really affect me, either, as purchasing non-existent structures and passively accepting whatever nonsense Philadelphia management happens to be hawking at the moment pretty much takes all my free time — the only time I watch baseball is when I go to the Park to see the IronPigs.

  5. I have sent the following email to “admin@minorleaguebaseball.com”, in hopes that it will reach the league president. If you dislike this rule, consider sending your own (feel free to copy mine, just remember to change my name to yours at the bottom).

    To Mr. Pat O’Conner and anyone else involved in the implementation of these new rules:

    In a word, phooey.

    As a life-long fan of baseball, and a current season ticket holder with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, I strongly oppose these new rules.

    They undermine the relaxing nature that is so much a part of America’s pastime. This does nothing to improve the game. In fact, it detracts immeasurably from the game itself and from the overall fan experience. I, and many others, go to ball games to relax and to take a “timeout” from the numerous time pressures we face each day. Give us a break!

    I could live with a “soft” rule to enforce a limit on the length of inning breaks and pitching changes, but the pitch clock is just plain obnoxious. I don’t want to see it on the field, and I don’t want my pitcher being worried about rushing a pitch. It’s baseball. Leave it simple. Don’t complicate it.

    From a business perspective, the minor league parks will immediately see less concession sales. Less time at the park = less time to eat/drink = less sales. If you think these rules will bring more people to the parks, I think you are mistaken. People who don’t go to a game (or stopped going), because the games were too long or slow-paced, are not going to suddenly start going now because the game might be 30 minutes shorter. They are not fans of the game, and this won’t change that.

    I was looking forward to the start of another season. Now, not as much. Thanks for taking some of the fun out of our game.

    Regards,

    Jeff Weik
    Lehigh Valley, PA

    Go ‘Pigs!

  6. I’m with you on this one. These MiLB folks are like a lot of lawyers I know. They have to justify all the money they’re getting for sitting around all day, so they invent obstacles that people have to climb, crawl or jump over to get what they want from a bank or corporation.

    The pace of pitching has never been a problem at CCP, as far as I’m concerned. I can’t remember a game that went on too long because of slow pitchers! It’s just like the rule-change talk on the Major League level. A new commissioner comes in and has to erect some kind of monument to himself, so he does it by way of rule changes. Leave the game alone, fellas! It’s great the way it is!

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