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One of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball is vehemently against the use of a pitch clock as an attempt to speed up the game.
Per ESPN.com, Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer explained why he is “fundamentally against” the idea of forcing pitchers to throw the ball within a certain time parameter:
“I know as players, that’s something that MLB is trying to negotiate. I don’t think there’s negotiation here. As players, it just shouldn’t be in the game. Having a pitch clock, if you have ball-strike implications, that’s messing with the fabric of the game. There’s no clock in baseball, and there’s no clock in baseball for a reason.”
MLB this year implemented a 20-second pitch clock during spring training games. Per the league’s announcement, the application of the clock will have three phases. At first, the clock was introduced to familiarize players and umpires with it. This week, umpires will issue a reminder to pitchers and hitters who take more than the 20 seconds allotted between pitches.
Depending on the results of negotiations with the MLB Players Association, umpires “later in spring training” could enforce ball-strike penalties to players who violate the rule.
For a 2017 article, SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee watched one MLB game from 1984 and another from 2014 to figure out why the more recent one lasted 37 minutes longer:
“Time between pitches is the primary villain. … That’s it. That’s the secret. It isn’t just the commercials. It isn’t just the left-handed pitchers coming in to face one batter, even though that absolutely makes a huge difference in the games when that does happen.
“It’s not like every at-bat in the 2014 game was rotten with hitters doing a Nomar Garciaparra impression between pitches, either. It was a marked difference in the modern players doing absolutely nothing of note. The batter taking an extra breath before he steps back in. The pitcher holding the ball for an extra beat.”
The average nine-inning game has been at least three hours in four of the past five seasons, per Baseball Reference.
Scherzer is a member of the MLBPA executive board, giving him a prominent seat at the table during negotiations about the pitch clock. His lack of support for the issue could force the two sides to find a compromise.