Why pitch clocks in MLB would be ‘a bunch of crap’


It seems inevitable that MLB will implement a pitch clock in the not-so-distant future.

And just as inevitable is the pushback that will follow whenever that day comes.

“I think it’s a bunch of crap,” Cubs reliever David Robertson said.

“I think that everything that they've pretty much added to baseball is a bunch of crap. But my opinion is different from everybody else's.”

He’s also certainly not the only one against adding the clock, which we could see in the big leagues as soon as next season.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, MLB can unilaterally adopt rule changes with a 45-day notice beginning in 2023. Previously, they had to give the players union a years’ notice.

MLB has experimented a pitch clock in various forms and fashions in the minor leagues since 2015. They expanded it to all full season levels this season; it’s 14 seconds with the bases empty and 18 seconds with runners on (19 seconds at Triple-A).

The clock has noticeably sped up minor league games this season. The average minor league game time with it this season is 2:39, down from 3:03 without it in 2021.

That doesn’t mean everyone is on board with adding it, never mind that it’s an easy adjustment to pitch with it.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Robertson, a 14-year veteran, told NBC Sports Chicago of how the clock would affect him personally. “I don't know. I guess I'll have to make that adjustment next year. 


“But I'm not for a lot of change in baseball. I've played a pure form for a longer time, so I think that's the difference.”

Cubs manager David Ross said there’s a consensus opinion in baseball that shorter games are better for the sport. 

However, while he didn’t come out as strong as Robertson, Ross acknowledged the clock is not going to be an automatic adjustment.

“Change comes with a little bit of an adjustment period, and we all go through that,” Ross said. “Sometimes we don't like it, but we adjust, and one thing I know about players is that they're really good at adjusting to the different changes in rules.”

Baseball players are creatures of habit, and Ross said he was someone who didn’t like change during his playing career. He specifically mentioned having to adjust how he handled plays at the plate after the Buster Posey Rule was adopted.

“As much of an annoyance as that is sometimes with what we're used to doing, change can be good,” Ross said.

Cubs starter Justin Steele said in his experience in the minor leagues, the clock didn’t change his pace and how he worked on the mound. 

He did express concern over pitchers being limited to two pickoffs/step-offs per plate appearance (part of the pitch clock rule), because any additional after that essentially act as balks.

“If you have a base stealer, he’s going to get a big enough lead where you have to pick off or he’s going to go,” Steele said. “If he does it twice, he can just try and draw it a third time and then he gets second base regardless.”

That aspect of the rule seems likely to be reconsidered.

Whether anyone likes the clock or not, they’ll have to adjust if MLB eventually adds it.

“We’re routine oriented people; we do the same thing every single day almost,” Ross said. “As much as it could be bothersome to some and not to others, I just think in all it, guys will adjust and they'll figure out a way to compete at this level. 

“They'll figure it out.”

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