Major League Baseball has undergone a lot of changes this decade, and as a pure baseball traditionalist, it’s been way too much for me.
I’ve been able to accept a few of these changes. I’ve accepted replay and inning clocks, but Major League Baseball cannot start using a pitch clock.
George Carlin said it in his ‘Baseball vs Football’ routine, “Baseball had no time limit. We don’t know when gonna end; we might have extra innings. Football is rigidly timed, and it will end, even if we have to go to sudden death.”
Well, sadly, baseball is about to become rigidly timed. I get it; guys like Steve Tracshel, Russ Ortiz and Bob Howry were brutal to watch when they took forever to pitch. However, I love the pace of the game, over all. The longer the game, the better. There’s more time to be at the ballpark and escape the horrors known as everyday life.
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I get it. Americans have incredibly short attention spans. Americans love everything to go as quickly as possible. People at games these days, especially millennials can’t go more than one pitch without looking at their smartphones to tell Facebook they’re at the game. Millennials whine all the time about baseball being “too slow,” even though Football is much, much slower.
However, I haven’t met a single living being on this planet, not even a millennial, who is in favor of a pitch clock. The beauty of baseball is that it’s completely different from any other sport. The only difference is not that baseball seems to be the only sport where the objective is not to move a ball or a puck down a rectangular surface. Every other sport has clocks, and for now, baseball doesn’t.
As I’ve learned this year, grassroots campaigns work very well in politics, and I think it can work in baseball, too. We need to put a campaign together to stop the pitch clock, and I’m not joking. Major League Baseball takes suggestions from the fans. Here’s a way to contact them. As I tell people to do with their elected representatives; call them, write them and make your voices heard on social media.
I’ll even give Major League Baseball a reason why it would be in their best interests not to implement a pitch clock. Now, I get that this is probably mostly for the networks, but the longer the game, the more stuff you can sell at ballparks. Food, merchandise, you name it. See, there’s a reason for the league not to implement a pitch clock.
While we’re at it, let’s bring back the real intentional walk.
First off, just having a batter takes his base saves 45 seconds. Yeah, that’s a lot of time. Second, it’s fun to boo when the catcher gets out out of the squat and puts his hand or glove out. When Barry Bonds was intentionally walked twice a game, the boos electrified the ballpark. There was nothing like it.
Lastly, many things have happened on botched intentional walks. The most famous instance of this came in game 3 of the 1972 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the Cincinnati Reds. It was a matchup of two powerhouse teams that dominated the decade, and it was a matchup of hall-of-famers. Rollie Fingers was set up to intentionally walk Johnny Bench, but little did the Reds’ catcher know that he’d get a pitch on the outside corner for a called third strike.
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On June 22, 2006, the Florida Marlins were in Baltimore to take on the Orioles. The game was tied 5-5 in the top of the 10th inning, and when Todd Williams tried to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera, Williams left a ball a little too close to the plate, which Cabrera blooped into centerfield for what turned out to be a game-winning single.
There were a pair of instances last year. On July 23, the Giants went into extra innings against the Yankees in the Bronx. Angel Pagan was at third with two outs in the top of the 11th, and when Dellin Betances threw the first pitch of what was supposed to be an intentional walk, the ball sailed to the backstop. Unfortunately, Pagan was asleep at third, but he would’ve scored had he been awake.
Later last season, the Yankees were the team that benefited on a botched intentional walk. On Sept. 10, against the Tampa Bay Rays, Gary Sanchez was supposed to be intentionally walked, but he got a pitch close to the plate, which he used to knock in Brett Gardner on a sacrifice fly to the warning track.
All of these unique moments in a unique game, where anything can happen, and the league decided to make an unneccessary change. I get it; it’s 2017, and everything makes changes to accommodate the times. With the technology available, it makes sense to have replay, even though I am vehemently-opposed to it, but what good does just telling a batter to go to first base do?
The league takes suggestions. Tell them you are opposed to the pitch clock, and tell them you want the real intentional walk back! Do not give up the traditions of our great game quietly!