Major League Baseball (MLB)’s decision to change the rules of baseball starting in the 2023 season left many fans of the game confused about its future. Even more, were unsure as to how much the integrity of the game would remain with such big changes.
Many felt that this would force pitchers to be rushed, and the climactic stare-downs late in tie games would be gone. The drama of bases loaded would somehow seem less real and people would tune out instead of enjoying a day at the ballpark. Yet after just a week and a half, MLB is reporting great results, and the fans have largely been happy with the changes.
As of this point, the batting average is up 16 points across the league. Stolen bases are up an astronomical 30%. Most importantly to MLB, games are now done 31 minutes sooner. This puts them on pace with the games of 1984. Considering the average game was already running three hours, this cut in time makes weekday games more palatable. Especially daytime doubleheaders that tend to show up in the summer months.
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton spoke with ESPN about the changes. “No. 1, I think throughout the game, we’re creating more action, which is something that was highlighted when we put it in. Then, the second part of it, and the most important part of it in my mind, is just the pace of play.”
He’s not wrong about these parts at all.
Yet seeing dual-threat pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani tied with 15 other MLB players for the lead with two pitch clock violations you know you have a problem with the game. What makes him so distinct though is his having one as a pitcher and one as a batter. As it stands right now, the NY Mets have the most violations across the league with 10.
The fact that this clock can trip up a generational talent like Ohtani so much is a sign that this might not be working as well as the league would hope. However, his quick adaptation could also signal that every other player should be able to adapt as well. It isn’t rocket science and given the high level of pay and skill these players have, it should be an easy adaptation as the season carries on.