Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Steve Trachsel chimed in Monday evening on Twitter after watching Japan’s epic comeback win over Mexico in a World Baseball Classic semifinal.
“Another great WBC game with no pitch clock, shift bans, bigger bases or pick off rules,” Trachsel wrote.
For the technology of baseball followers unfamiliar with the title, it needs to be famous that Trachsel was famend for being among the many slowest-working pitchers within the sport, referred to by some because the “Human Rain Delay.” Writers liked speaking to him as a result of he all the time had one thing fascinating to say, however we hated the times Trachsel began as a result of his video games took without end.
Trachsel later instructed former Cubs media relations head and blogger Chuck Wasserstrom “there was probably a good five-year period where my infielders probably thought it was painful for them” to play each time he took the mound,.
“I know it was painful for some umpires as well,” he mentioned. “There would be comments made by them beforehand, especially the guys behind the plate: ‘Oh, God, I’ve got Trachsel’s game.’”
While the brand new pitch-clock guidelines instituted this 12 months had gamers like Trachsel in thoughts, he was completely proper concerning the WBC sport. No pitch clock was used underneath WBC guidelines, however nobody appeared to thoughts the 3½-hour sport.
In a playoff-type ambiance with each pitch essential in a good sport, nobody is anxious concerning the sport dragging. Baseball’s larger concern come playoff time is the late beginning occasions that result in hundreds of thousands of youngsters going to mattress and lacking out on one of the best half.
The gamers did this to themselves, in fact, with their limitless procrastinating on mounds and outdoors of batter’s bins. The readjusting of batting gloves and the fixed must take a few deep breaths earlier than each pitch led to the three-hour-plus video games MLB was compelled to reckon with.
We’ve seen in spring coaching that the brand new pitch timers work, and video games have moved briskly with out anybody complaining about their “purity.”
Only one of many Cubs’ Cactus League video games has taken greater than three hours, and that was the opener in opposition to the San Francisco Giants (3 hours, 6 minutes). They performed one sport in opposition to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2 hours, 4 minutes.
But these are exhibition video games, and followers are used to leaving early irrespective of how lengthy they take. We’ll discover out within the common season how gamers alter — and whether or not some make the most of the principles to outthink the opposition.
Last week in Florida, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Ryan Thompson tried to fast pitch Atlanta Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who barely bought set on the required eight-second mark earlier than the pitch was made. Thompson apologized afterward to d’Arnaud, in keeping with the Tampa Bay Times.
“I said, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m being kind of a jerk, but I’m trying to figure out the rules, too, and trying to see what I can and can’t do,’” Thompson mentioned.
Whenever there are guidelines to skirt, there can be individuals looking for methods to get round them, and that’s wonderful with me.
MLB has talked about dashing up the sport for greater than 20 years. Back in 2003, umpires have been allowed to name an computerized strike if the hitter procrastinated, and pitchers have been instructed to ship inside 12 seconds of the batter moving into the field. A violation would result in an computerized ball.
Commissioner Bud Selig had a 12-minute “speed-it-up” video proven to groups throughout spring coaching. Naturally, Trachsel was featured prominently within the video.
But umpires didn’t implement the principles, which led to even longer video games. Enter Rules Czar Theo Epstein, who lastly persuaded baseball to give up speaking about doing it and simply make the required modifications.
I’m not anti-pitch clock, although I do admit to being anti-walk-up music after watching too many hitters take without end to get into the field so they may hear just a few extra seconds of their signature track.
But maybe MLB ought to rethink its determination to make use of the pitch clock within the postseason. If the WBC video games are any indication, the size of video games is irrelevant to followers when the significance is magnified and everyone seems to be into each pitch.
While baseball officers haven’t mentioned altering the rule for the postseason, it’s attainable they may determine to make a change as they see the way it performs out throughout the common season.
Over the winter, agent Scott Boras argued in opposition to utilizing the timer within the playoffs.
“It’s the moment, the big moment,” Boras mentioned. “They need to reflect, they need more time. It’s a different scenario than the regular season, and we do not want their performances rushed.”
MLB noticed match to start out utilizing the “ghost runner” in further innings in 2020 to shorten video games throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, nevertheless it was sensible sufficient to understand the postseason is a special animal and thus reverted to the old-school extra-inning guidelines in October.
MLB made the rule everlasting going into 2023, however the postseason guidelines nonetheless remove ghost runners. Old-school guidelines nonetheless rule when the season is on the road.
I perceive MLB desires to shorten postseason video games as effectively. More followers are tuning in, and baseball doesn’t need them tuning out. But it will be a disgrace to see a postseason sport determined by a pitch-clock violation, as appears inevitable even after six months of regular-season video games to get used to the timer.
Epstein instructed The Athletic in January that safeguards would shield a sport from being determined by such a violation.
“Every hitter has a timeout each and every plate appearance, where if the game is going too fast, you need a little bit more time, you can simply call timeout and gather your thoughts and reset the timer that way,” he mentioned. “When there are runners on base, every pitcher can step off twice per plate appearance with impunity and reset the clock and gather your thoughts and move forward. And then you get two more if a runner advances.”
Guess we’ll discover out in October.
Perhaps Epstein ought to create a particular subcommittee to debate whether or not the pitch clock needs to be turned off within the postseason. He may even usher in Trachsel as an professional witness to make the case for the anti-clock crowd.
I’m positive his soliloquy wouldn’t take greater than a few hours — although Epstein may need to put a time restrict on it, simply in case.