Seton Hall Sports Poll Findings Suggest Excitement Over New MLB RulesDate: May 5, 2023
By: Justin Lotito
Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
For the 2023 MLB season, the league implemented new rule changes to quicken the pace of games.
The rule change involved the implementation of a pitch clock. This rule states that a pitcher has 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base. If a pitcher fails to start their pitching motion during this time, they will be punished with a strike.
This rule change also applies to batters. If a batter fails to step into the box with eight seconds remaining on the clock, they will be called for an automatic strike.
“We think the changes are going to produce a crisp, more exciting game with more balls in play,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said.
Polls provided by Seton Hall Sports Poll seem to agree. According to the poll, 65-percent of MLB fans agree with the pitch clock. The poll also showed that 59-perecent of sports fans agree with the change, while 73-percent of avid fans agree with the new change.
While a large portion of sports fans agree with the change, the new rule has faced some controversy.
An MLB spring training game ended due to a pitch clock violation. The Atlanta Braves shortstop Cal Conley was ruled out after failing to step into the box before the clock passed eight seconds. The count was full, and the bases were loaded; the strikeout resulted in a 6-6 tie with the Boston Red Sox.
Bottom of the ninth. Tie game. Bases loaded. Full count. The dream scenario. And ... Cal Conley didn't get set in the batter's box with 8 seconds left on the pitch clock.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 25, 2023
Umpire calls an automatic strike. At-bat over. Inning over. This is the new reality. pic.twitter.com/Bv5k2xJ06j
Another instance of controversy occurred during a regular season matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs. It was former Dodger Cody Bellinger’s first game at Dodger Stadium since signing with the Cubs. Before entering the batter-box, Los Angeles fans gave Bellinger a standing ovation. While taking in the ovation, Bellinger failed to enter the batting box, resulting in a strike.
While fans were outraged, this violation could have been prevented.
“As part of MLB’s pitch-clock provisions, teams can request a stoppage in play for ovations they are anticipating, like the reception Aaron Judge got in Yankee Stadium on opening day,” The Los Angeles Time said. “But those requests must be made to and approved by the commissioner’s office, which notifies the crew chief for that game.”
Imagine grinding 13 years in the minor leagues and then getting a pitch clock violation in your first MLB at-bat pic.twitter.com/I6TZs6glfM— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 27, 2023
Regardless of controversy over the new pitch clock, it is working exactly as Manfred had intended. According to CBS Sports, on average, MLB games are 25 minutes shorter than previous seasons.
The pitch-clock rule was not the only rule to be implemented by the MLB. All three bases were increased from 15 inches to 18 inches. This change was implemented to decrease collisions at first base, simulate more infield base hits and increase the total amount of stolen bases.
This change has already impacted stolen bases. According to Sports Illustrated, stolen bases are at the highest per-game rate since 1992. The success rate on stolen bases has also jumped from 75-percent to 83-percent.
The rule changes by Manfred, reflect the MLB’s goal of reclaiming the title of ‘America’s Pastime.’ According to Stillman Sports Polling, a 47-percent of sports fans view football as America’s Pastime, compared to 36-percent believing baseball still holds the title.
While it is still early in the MLB season, data suggests Manfred’s new rules are changing the pace of games; only time will tell if these changes attract more fans to the league.
Justin Lotito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.