Baseball on the Clock? Er… No!


Baseball is not football or basketball or soccer.

Those games are ruled by clocks. A finite countdown begins from the first moment. But baseball, until recent times – and in all the years of my childhood, when it was THE game (my middle grade science teacher had World Series radio on during class) – had no clock.

Sadly – my own two cents – that history is changing. Every year the lords of baseball add new rules to “speed up” the game, to make it fit our time, now so impatient and full of distraction. The latest, and worst, is the pitch clock — pitchers will have 15 seconds to get off a pitch (20 seconds if there’s a runner on base) and can only try to pick off a runner on first TWO times. It’s meant to quicken the pace obviously, but also to get more runners into scoring position since a player wanting to steal second can take a big lead after the first two attempts at picking him off fail.

But consider — one of the great moments in what was once our national game is the double play. It can bail a pitcher out of a tough situation, save the defensive team when the bases are loaded with one out, and is one of those electric moments in baseball — bang bang, two outs — that make it unique. But if there are more steals of second (the bases will be larger as well) the number of double plays will shrink. That’s a fundamental change in the architecture of a great game. Count me out.

Yes, I know, I’m an old-fashioned curmudgeon, but say what you will, just don’t mess with my favorite game.

Mike James
Mike James
Mike James was a long-time anchor newscaster at KING TV.


  1. Mike,
    You are an old fashioned curmudgeon. I love baseball as much as anyone but the length of games, lack of action, number of strikeouts, seemingly hours spent adjusting batting gloves are killing the entertainment value. All of these are addressed by the pitch clock along with the restrictions on shifting. There is a ton of analysis on the impact of these changes in the minor leagues. You raise a good question about double plays but I suspect the data will show they have declined anyway due to the decrease in base runners. Let’s agree it will be interesting to see the impact of the changes in the game at the ML level next season along with RoboUmp in another year or two.

  2. I can live with a clock on the pitcher – they fuss too much between pitches – but that battle between a pitcher and the runner at first is a crucial part of baseball, for all the reasons noted above, i.e. a runner who steals 2nd is now in scoring position, a runner kept at 1st keeps alive the chance of a double play. Limiting the pitcher’s throws to first base (just TWO) is not incremental but a fundamental change in the game.
    I do cheer for the shift ban and would argue that it’s the biggest reason behind the lack of base runners. Agree we’re stuck with the pitch clock for now, alas.

  3. Not a fan of the pitch clock. The time it slices off the game is minimal and IMO give the batter an advantage. If anything pitchers should just need 2-3 pitches to warm up while on the mound and do majority of their warm up in their bullpen. I’m even uncertain of a shift ban though that’s something that probably should be considered as the shift has been used in the extreme.

  4. Mike has the right philosophical attitude about baseball whatever “improvements” marketing people come up with. Unlike other sports which are merely entertainments, baseball exists at a higher plane and the game or its details cannot be put on a clock. The final result should be determined “in the fullness of time.”

    • I agree….I enjoyed watching Randy Johnson send a slow, fierce glare to the hapless hitter on deck before a pitch. I don’t want a pitcher to be in a hurry. I may be in the distinct minority, but I like the tradition-drenched nature of baseball..


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