Opening Day: How MLB’s Pitch Clock Became a Hitter’s Problem

(CNN) Fidget swiping gloves between pitches. Scrabbling in the dirt with the tip of a baseball bat. Organize — and maybe meditate — around the batter box.

Major League Baseball hitters used to spend all the time in the world for such rituals before feeling ready and confident to take on their pitchers.

But the New pitch clock rules in the leagueintroduced this year to speed up a game that can run for three hours, will result in another unintended victim: strange sloppy routines.

“It’s called a pitch timer, and because of that, I think when they announced it, most people thought about how it would affect a pitcher,” MLB.com national correspondent Anthony Castrovins told CNN.

With spring training under way, the new rule seemed to be achieving its goal of speeding up games. But baseball experts are also beginning to realize that the hourly burden may be more of an adjustment for hitters than pitchers.

“The hitters didn’t have as much time as they used to,” Neil Payne, acting sports editor for FiveThirtyEight, told CNN. “We didn’t spend as much time thinking about batters, and as it turned out, batters had to make as much adjustment as pitchers as it seems.”



The ballpark clock counts down during a spring training game between the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates in Tampa, Fla., on March 6.

The new pitch clock rules state that the pitcher gets 15 seconds to start the motion to throw the ball with the bases empty and 20 seconds with the runners on base. If he can’t do it in time, he will be charged with the ball. However, the hitter must also be ready to go in the batter’s box. The shooter must be facing and looking at him with eight seconds left on the clock. If not, he was charged with striking. The consequences were all too apparent early in spring training.

It was the bottom of the ninth inning and the bases were loaded with a full count and the tying score.

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Cal Conley from the Atlanta Braves He had a chance to win team against the Boston Red Sox. As the court clock expired, the umpire called a time violation and Conley forced his way to first base, apparently under the assumption that the pitcher was violating the new rule.

The only call was against Conley – he was not ready in the batter’s box with eight seconds left on the court clock. The referee called a strike, and the game ended.

Much of the slow build-up to the pitch, for both hitter and pitcher, can be attributed to game strategy—that is, an attempt to interrupt the opposing team’s flow. But with the new playground rules, the mind games need to be accelerated.

“It’s going to be a faster chess match,” Castrovins said. “I’ve heard some blows from the fans about that. They’ll miss the pitcher staring at the batter and vice versa.”

And for many batters, that means they’ll have to adjust their superstitions and routines when they enter the batter’s box, focusing on the new clock.

“The placement of the ballpark clock and the rules surrounding it was single-handedly responsible for reducing the 25 minutes of dead time from a baseball game,” Payne said. “I think that’s probably still a positive in the net sense, but at the same time you lose out on a little bit of that other stuff.”

CNN identified four current and former players with such bizarre routines and tried to recreate their at-bat motions to see if they would violate the new clock. Each reenactment shows a scenario with the rules blank, allowing 15 seconds in total. The batter should be ready within eight seconds.

CNN staff volunteered to mimic the moves to the best of their ability. This is what we found:

Nomar Garciaparra

Garciaparra is known for obsessively adjusting the hitting gloves MLB has put together Compilation of pre-bat routines Features this iconic movement.

The video below shows an example where the retired Boston Red Sox player set his gloves on both hands several times, tapped twice his left and then right fingers on the dirt, then gave his bat a few casual twists before focusing on the pitcher.

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Castrovins believes this is something that shouldn’t be too hard to cut back.

“I hope most players realize that you don’t actually have to adjust your batting gloves when you haven’t even been swinging on the last pitch and nothing has changed,” he joked.

In this case, Garciaparra spent nearly 10 seconds getting ready to pitch—two seconds too long for the new rules. He was going to strike.

Pablo Sandoval

During a match on June 13, 2014Sandoval, the San Francisco Giants outfielder, displayed several fumbles before putting himself in the batter’s box. There was tapping from the top of the bat on his toes, scrabbling in the dirt, adjusting his gloves, and snapping his shoulder, among other displays of fidgeting.

“There’s less room for individuality in terms of your little routines that you go through and the movements, but maybe it’s worth it in terms of the accelerating effect,” Payne said.

In this case, Sandoval spent more than 16 seconds getting ready to pitch—at least 6 seconds is too long for the new rules. He was going to strike.

Tria Turner

An MLB star who formerly played for the Washington Nationals, Turner has shown that he takes his time preparing for success. in October 2019 game Against the Houston Astros, Turner takes a few leisurely swings, tapping the tip of his bat at home plate and shaking several times before signaling he’s ready to play.

In this case, Turner spent nearly 14 seconds getting ready to pitch — 6 seconds is quite a long time for the new rules. He was going to strike.

JD Martinez

Martinez was also awarded Mixing video processing Due to all the pre-pitch rituals at the plate.

In a particularly long routine, Martinez, a former Boston Red Sox outfielder, hits the bat on his heels and then puffs his chest up to the sky with his arms by his sides before slowly rising to the plate and swinging into stance.

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In this case, Martinez spent more than 16 seconds getting ready to pitch—at least 6 seconds is too long for the new rules. He was going to strike.

The primary goal of the new ballpark clock rules is to speed up the game, and it appears to be working: The average spring training game was 2 hours, 36 minutes, compared to 3 hours, 1 minute last spring, According to The Athletic.

It may also be more interesting for viewers looking for a little more action. Bovada, a sports betting company, made public bets for stadium clock violations during spring training.

Pat Morrow, president of Bovada’s Oddsmaker, told CNN that this became part of the site because of how important it was to violate the ballpark clock.

“It’s not just having the usual stuff that people have been able to bet on… It’s conversation starter questions about those sports: It’s what happens in those sports that makes them relevant, even when the first phase of the season hasn’t started yet,” Moreau said.

Morrow expects more involvement on the site during live matches this season. But the big question is whether the rules generate new fans who might be more drawn to watching a shorter sporting event.

“While it’s great for baseball to shave off 25 minutes of rest, it’s like the difference between a Christopher Nolan movie and a regular movie,” Payne said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the name of sports betting company Bovada.

Jeremy Moorhead Video. Animation by Taylor Sue. Nomar Garciaparra and Trea Turner’s routine by CNN’s Ben Krollwitz, Pablo Sandoval’s routine by CNN’s Kathryn Lubosco and JD Martinez’s routine by CNN’s Kyle Feldscher.

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