Last night was the first IronPigs’ game that used the new pitch clocks, designed to “speed up the game.”
I got a good look at the clocks on Monday.
There are clocks on each dugout and one just to the right of the batter’s eye in center field. There was some talk about the batter being distracted by this clock. It is bright and nearly a part of the dark dull area that is required to be distraction free. The clock is turned off completely when the pitch comes to the “set” position so you could say that it isn’t technically a distraction, but the lights in the clock being on then turning off could be just enough of a blink to throw a batter’s all so important timing off. Especially so in the case of left handed pitchers where the ball would be coming from the near area where the clock resides in the batter’s view.
Last night I got a good look at the operations of the clocks themselves.
The above photo shows the Pitch clock machine. It’s not real exciting to look at but the operations were intense. There was an attached cable with remote that the operator used to start, stop and reset the clock using a laminated 5-6 page document as guidelines. Not that he needed it. The operator last night knew his stuff inside and out.
Speaking of the operators… apparently there are three operators who have been hired specifically for this task.
Three operators, three buttons and one switch. Granted, only one operator per game but don’t think this is an easy job. The clock operator is on task 100% of the time. Starting with the 60 minute to game time start clock to each pitch, each foul ball, each time the pitcher steps onto the dirt circle, each time that time outs are called, each time a new pitcher comes into the game, each time an inning end or begins. I’m talking no chatting, no food, no watching of old Bugs Bunny cartoons on youtube. The operator’s only interaction with anyone during the entire game is if the home plate umpire raises his right hand and spins it in the classic “home run” motion. That’s right folks, the home run signal now has a new meaning.. Reset the clock!
Generally, when a new batter steps up, the clock is on the pitcher, starting when he steps onto the dirt circle around the mound. Subsequent pitches move to the batter being set and ready. There are a bunch of scenarios that could change that as well.
It was pretty interesting at first. Each time the start and stop switch is moved, it clicks loudly. Each time it is reset it beeps loudly. Other than the intense thousand yard stare of the operator, there wasn’t much else to it.
The game seemed to move along nicely throughout the night. Of course, it’s cold out there so players tend to move faster to get on/off the field and back to the dugout heaters. That may change when there’s nicer weather.
One thing I did take note of was that relief pitchers were the only times that the pitch clock wound past a few seconds. Kicking dirt, walking around, pacing, fixing the mound a bit, cleaning dirt out of their cleats. Stuff like that ate up time more so than the starting pitchers.
Really not that bad at all.
Categories: Lehigh Valley IronPigs