Welcome to a new era of Major League Baseball.
Whether it’s here to stay or not is yet to be seen, but there’s not question that the rules changes instituted in the offseason have significantly changed the game.
The most notable of those changes is, of course, the use of a pitch clock.
Under the new rule, pitchers will have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base. Hitters will need to be in the batter’s box with eight seconds on the pitch clock.
Major League Baseball got its desired result. The average game time was down almost 30 minutes from 2022 to 2023. But it didn’t come without controversy.
Chicago Cubs pitch Marcus Stroman quickly fell victim to the new rule.
Marcus Stroman is now an answer to a future trivia question as he was called for the first ever regular season pitch-clock violation in MLB history pic.twitter.com/OTqjHGhCPA
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) March 30, 2023
While Boston Red Sox star Rafael Devers was the first batter to feel the wrath of the clock after failing to get set in the batters box in time.
Watch as Rafael Devers becomes the first player in MLB history to be called out because of a pitch clock violation. 😐
There's just not enough time to safely step out between pitches (even foul balls). pic.twitter.com/owm6v86aHJ
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) March 30, 2023
Philadelphia Phillies ace Aaron Nola became victim of an unforeseen consequence of the clock during a meltdown inning against the Texas Rangers.
During a nightmare nine-run inning, the Phillies learned the hard way that things have changed. "It’s so much different. We just have to manage it better."
Momentum in the pitch-clock era requires new strategies: https://t.co/Ps9cDAOS2l
— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) March 31, 2023
As was Cleveland Guardians reliever James Karinchak.
Felt like James Karinchak wasn’t quite on after the pitch clock violation. All over the place, appearing rushed and it culminates by giving up a three-run home run to Ty France. pic.twitter.com/HgjLdSqZaZ
— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) March 31, 2023
But what did fans have to say about the new rule and how it affected them? Well, many enjoyed the shortened games.
To say the pitch clock was smash success on Opening Day would be a gross understatement. We're talking best rule change ever. Only 5 of 15 games went over 3 hours.
The scores of 3 of the 5 gms that went over 3 hrs: 10-9, 10-9, 11-7.
Here are the times for the Opening Day games. pic.twitter.com/Vn92CPlYFU
— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) March 31, 2023
Mariners game started at 9:10pm. Mariners win at 11:27pm.
Who are these dorks who didn't want a pitch clock? This is the best thing that's ever happened to baseball lol
— David Helman (@davidhelman_) March 31, 2023
Though not everyone was as convinced.
It's been 5 innings and I already hate the pitch clock. There's just no opportunity to let moments breathe.
— devon (@2012Devon) March 30, 2023
@MLB pitch clock is ruining baseball. It is faster no doubt but making pitchers and hitters to rush is not helpful. Do better and figure out something else. Baseball eventually is going to turn into a circus to watch.
— Douglas (@edouglas8) March 31, 2023
Some even questioned whether fans who like the new pitch clock rules even really liked watching baseball to begin with.
Avg. MLB game length: 3:03
Avg. action-time in MLB: 18 minutes
Avg. NFL game length: 3:12
Avg. time of ball-in-play (action) in NFL: 18 minutes
Does baseball really need to be timed,sped up?
OR… hear me out…
Did you just not prefer the sport to begin with?
— nocturnalnati (@nocturnalnati) February 28, 2023
Ultimately, the new rules will likely be a point of contention throughout the season. Major League Baseball will point to shortened game times as a massive success. But unless they lead to an influx of fans at games and watching on TV, it will mean very little.
So where do you stand on the new pitch block? A fan? A hater? Or maybe somewhere in between?