Falling in love with a stopwatch is easy. Time to embrace baseball’s new reality

Two minutes, one out! One minute, two departures! Two minutes, three out!

Egg up, egg down, egg up, egg down, egg up, egg down.


So went the first-half inning account of the Dodgers’ Friday night game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a shining example of baseball’s biggest new look since the invention of chewing gum.

I love the pitch clock.

The half inning lasted five minutes. Dustin May of the Dodgers was dealing quickly. The Diamondbacks hitters were serious and raucous. It was quick. He was angry. It’s been fun.

I love the clock face.

It’s baseball on legal steroids. The ancient board game of baseball has become today’s video game. It’s the coolest thing to happen to baseball since the black eye debuted. It’s the first time baseball has prioritized the comfort of the fans over the comfort of the players… forever.

I’m so in love with the field clock I want to take one home so I can speed up the pace of breakfast.

You know the new rules. Pitchers have 15 seconds to throw the ball, 20 seconds with a runner on base, and batters must reach the eight second mark with the pitcher.

You’ve seen the stats. The average start time this season was 2:45, which is 26 minutes shorter than last year.

Now embrace reality. Baseball has essentially cut off 30 minutes for pitchers leaving the mound to hit the handle and batters leaving the box to adjust their gloves in an elaborate game of chicken that wastes everyone’s time. Baseball has basically opened the doors to fans who have ignored the sport for so long because it was slow and slow. When it was on the brink of irrelevance compared to football and basketball, baseball may have just saved itself.

Did I tell you I loved the clock face?

I’m not the only one.

“It’s really big,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts marveled after a quick opening night Thursday. “That was in the back of my mind, actually, looking at the game, ‘We played at 2:35 last night, we played at 3:35 last year,’ it’s not that bad.”

Technically, last year’s Colorado opener took 3:09, but you get the picture. These games are very fast, seeming to be less than an hour, and in this case, less is more.

It was a very different experience at Dodger Stadium the first two nights of the season, the place almost felt like Arena. The fans seemed to be cheering or booing something every five minutes. The “Let’s Go Dodgers” chants lasted about two verses before the pitcher went back to work. Despite the large crowd, the halls did not feel overcrowded perhaps because people did not want to leave their seats.

And that cliché about Dodger fans always leaving in the seventh inning? kiss goodbye According to an unofficial eye test, the vast majority of fans stayed until the end of the game because the games didn’t end that late.

Stan Brooks has run season tickets in his family for 59 years, and opening night was a revelation.

“It’s the first time I get to my Westside home after a night game before 11,” he said. “I loved the pace of the game, I loved it. I don’t have to sit there for hours watching the guys adjust the scare belts. It’s the best change in baseball since I started watching baseball.”

Standing in the concession stand during the Dodgers’ second game on Friday, longtime fan Don Mejia marveled at how that pitch clock has literally changed the conversation.

“You’re not sitting there going, ‘Oh my God, this is forever, will you please throw the ball?'” he said. “The game is more fun. He dragged it, and now he’s not dragging it.”

The game is equally enhanced for television. Before this season I can’t remember the last time I watched an entire baseball game on TV. They took too long. Who has four hours to invest in a bunch of guys around? However, I watched an entire game this spring, and it almost felt like I sat through it.

“The thing I noticed the most was that there wasn’t a lot of time to get up in an inning to eat or go to the bathroom,” said longtime fan Drew Pomerance, who watched the opening night on TV. “I had to wait between entries because the entries themselves moved at a much faster pace.”

Not everyone loves it. So far, the players are suffering. They say it’s hard to get comfortable. They worry about rushing into an injury. When trying to play the most difficult sport in front of thousands of screaming fans, they still wish they could hit the pause button.

Dodgers fans share their thoughts on the pitch clock and whether or not it improves the game.

Starting pitchers have gone from playing a quiet game of catch to a lively game of ping pong. In Julio Urías’ first inning of the season opener, he gave up two runs in about three minutes before finally settling down.

“It’s different,” the Dodgers ace said. “As a starting pitcher you had a chance to take a breather and relax and be in your own rhythm. You don’t have those options with the pitch clock.”

The batsmen, on the other hand, have gone from taking quiet breaks to forcing themselves to fire immediately. In the eighth inning on Friday night, with runners on first and second and two outs in a one-run game, Dodgers shortstop Miguel Rojas made a quick run on Scott McGough’s second pitch and lined out to end a potential rally in the Dodgers’ 2-1 loss. .

“The pitch clock is tough,” Rojas said. “I feel like I needed a little more time in the eighth inning, to be honest with you. These games will be more intense and you will have to get a little more time. Hopefully, no one will get hurt.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers are bringing a brand new look to the field for the 2023 season. Beat reporter Jack Harris and sports columnist Bill Plaschke talk about the upcoming season and how the Dodgers can do.

Rojas admitted, however, that it is good for the players because it keeps them more engaged.

“As a fielder, it’s a lot better, not being on your feet a lot, it’s a good way to get the game going,” he said. “But we have to understand that hitting and pitchers need a little more time to gather themselves. It’s not so easy to hit, it’s hard to shoot and rush…”

The pitch clock has also changed the look of Dodger Stadium. There are five clocks located on the field, with most fans focusing on the two giant clocks above the field fence. The clocks are manually started and stopped by a major league employee sitting in a booth at the top of the seats behind home plate.

“You have a clock operator in the NBA and you have a clock operator in the NFL, now major league baseball has a clock operator,” said Joe Martinez, MLB’s vice president of strategy, who was at Dodger Stadium. for the opening games.

Martinez said the clock was set at the request of fans who wanted more action.

Angels star Shohei Ohtani is in the on-deck circle next to the pitch clock.

Angels star Shohei Ohtani stands in the back circle near the pitch clock during Thursday’s season opener against the Oakland Athletics.

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

“A lot of dead time has been cut, there’s not a lot of waiting around, it’s what the fans want,” he said.

There are still critics who believe that the pitch clock, which was tested in the minor leagues, is driven by a deadline-pressed media that doesn’t want to run for long. Those critics say that with ticket prices rising, fans want to spend more time in the ballpark, not less.

“But you still get your money’s worth,” Martinez said. “We’re not cutting the part you’re paying for, we’re cutting the part where nothing happens.”

Today, everything is everywhere at the same time. In two nights at Dodger Stadium, I watched a four-minute inning, heard the fans gleefully counting down opposing pitchers, and felt a long-ago game come to life again.

I love the pitch clock.

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