As the clock is ticking, the major league is undergoing a transformation

Pierce Johnson of the Colorado Rockies is on the mound, with Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres. Machado was the first player to get an automatic strike ball in the preparations because he wasn’t ready in time.Getty image

It had to be more exciting, more exciting, and above all faster, so this season the Chiefs of Major League Baseball decided to make an unprecedented total renovation. With three new rules, the often traditional game is overhauled: pitch clock, defensive limitations, and bigger bases.

Visitor numbers for American baseball have declined steadily in recent years. Many TV viewers could barely keep up with an entire match. And those who went to the stadium left after more than three hours with pain in their buttocks. The Major League sank in the quicksand quagmire. The fear of losing interest among young Americans in particular led to adaptation.

About the author
Described by Quinn van der Velden De Volkskrant About Sports in the United States. Lives in New York.

Three new rules. More movement.’ So concludes actor Bryan Cranston (Too bad) TV announced the league starting its new season on Thursday. In the accompanying footage, balls fly off the bat and players impatiently dive for the bases.

Throw the clock

The new rules have been tested in recent years in the lower minor leagues, the competitions where talent is prepared for the big job. The ringing of the bell in particular is seen as a radical change. In preparation for the new season, players in the American League also had to deal with it.

League president Rob Manfred noted in his first game with the new technology running that he had much less time between throws due to his usual talking in the stands. The American said: “If you don’t look now, you will immediately lose something.” New York times. “You used to have it all the time.” Manfred looked happy.

From now on, pitchers will have 15 seconds to fire their projectiles, and twenty seconds if the opponent is on base. The clocks behind home plate and in view of the batter. He must be ready with eight seconds to go and look at the pitcher. If it’s too late to throw the ball, it’s a ball. If the batter hesitates, he automatically concedes the hit.

It takes some getting used to, especially for slow shooters. According to data platform FiveThirthyEight, 20 percent of pitchers would have had problems last season, if the clock had been around at the time.

“I didn’t know I was that slow,” said Korasawan’s Kenley Jansen after an exhibition game for his new club, the Boston Red Sox. “It crept up over the years. I now have to get back to the way I used to throw, much faster. Jansen left the Baseball World Cup last month to prepare with Boston, among other things to learn how to play by the clock.

The new reality is also uncomfortable for the batsmen. Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres was the first player to receive an automatic hit in the preseason because he wasn’t ready in time. “It’s a big adjustment,” Machado said. “But at least I’m in the history books now.”

Shorter matches

In the minor leagues, the pitching clock has had its intended effect in recent years: Games have lasted no less than 26 minutes. The first results in the American League on Thursday were also encouraging. An average match lasted around two hours and forty minutes, down from three hours and six minutes last season. At the moment, the watch is welcomed with open arms by the majority of players and coaches.

To keep the momentum going further, pitchers are only allowed two pitches maximum on base to keep runners in line. At the same time, the league encourages base stealing. This aspect of the game was on the verge of extinction. The data that has flooded the sport in recent years has shown that attempting a robbery just isn’t worth the effort. In addition, encounters between the baserunner and an infield baseman regularly result in injuries.

The Major League is trying to block the latter this year with bigger rules. The white squares are now more than 45 centimeters per side, while last year’s squares are about ten centimeters smaller. Thus, the distance between the bases has also been reduced. So the enemy is shorter.

The Third Amendment should also lead to more action on the rules. And now the so-called defensive “shift” is partially prohibited. Based on the breakdown data, home runs previously positioned themselves on a certain side of the field because it was more likely that the batter would hit there. Now they have to stay in place, allowing the balls to easily sail between the players. Should boost the historically low batting average of the past few seasons.

Of all the novelties, the throwing watch is the most striking. From now on, TV viewers will see an hour go from fifteen (or twenty) to zero. New York Mets supporters have already taken advantage of the new technology, deliberately making mistakes and confusing opposing pitchers.

Complaints about new rules are remarkably rare in a sport that does not excel in innovation and advancement. It appears that the major league is undergoing a successful makeover. Whether interest will also increase, the ultimate goal, will have to be determined in the new season.

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