MLB union rips decision to shorten pitch clock time, says players expressed concerns


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Major League Baseball’s decision to reduce the game’s pitch clock by two seconds with runners on base was premature, the players’ union contends.

Tony Clark, executive director of the MLBPA, suggested conversations about the pitch clock were shorter than they should have been.

“That’s a conversation that should have warranted a much longer dialogue than what we had,” Clark said via The Associated Press. He also noted that some players expressed concerns about the shortened clock when they learned about the proposal. 

“We voiced those concerns, players voiced those concerns, and yet, the push through of the change to the pitch clock still happened.”

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Pitch clock winds down

The pitch clock ticks down in the top of the ninth in a game between the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies in Arlington, Texas, April 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Emil T. Lippe, File)

The pitch clock, along with limits on infield shifts and several other rules, was adopted ahead of the start of the 2023 season. It gave pitchers 15 seconds to start their motion if there are no baserunners and 20 seconds with someone aboard.

The clock is shortening this season to 18 seconds from 20 with men on base and will stay at 15 seconds with no one on.

Game time averages dropped considerably in 2023 as a result of the pitch clock. Major league games were cut by an average of 24 minutes, the quickest games have been finished since 1984.

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The clock, adopted over the objection of player representatives on the competition committee, was considered a huge success, and the sport drew more than 70 million fans to ballparks for the first time since 2017.

MLB logo

The MLB logo on the on-deck circle during a game between the Minnesota Twins and the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park Sept. 18, 2023, in Cincinnati.  (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Clark also suggested that the 2024 season should have been used to allow for players to fully adjust to the clock.

“We just had the biggest adjustment this league has ever seen in regards to length of game and how the game was affected by including a clock,” Clark said. “Rather than give us another year to adjust and adapt to it, why are we adjusting again, and what are the ramifications going to be?”

Pitch clocks winds down

The pitch clock is seen as the Minnesota Twins’ Alex Kirilloff stands for an at-bat against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning of a game July 1, 2023, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Clark’s main concern seems to be that pitchers have less time between pitches to recover, particularly when maximum effort and pitch velocity are so important.

“When fatigue happens, you’re more susceptible to injury,” Clark said. “We’re seeing a lot of injuries, and we’re seeing them in a way that simply can’t remove the question of whether or not shortening recovery time is in anyone’s best interest.”

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Aside from the pitch clock adjustment, Clark will also have to contend with the uncertainty surrounding the A’s potential relocation and backlash stemming from new uniforms, while also keeping an eye on the prospect of players playing in the 2028 Olympics. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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