Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Pitch Clock Is A Terrible Idea, Because The Hell With Subtlety

Meet MLB's New Pitch Clock. Yes, They're Starting It In The Minors. 
Why Do You Ask?
I will keep this simple.

Baseball does not need a pitch clock to speed up play.

This is not because baseball does not need to speed up its pace a bit.


It is because there is already a rule on the books dictating how long can be taken between pitches. A rule the umpires basically never enforce.

So, the obvious solution to the problem is to enforce the existing rule, and by doing so remind batters that people don't pay to watch them wanderjahr around the batters box while adjusting their junk after every pitch and remind pitchers that they don't need to dowse for water on the pitcher's mound after every throw back from the catcher.

But.

This does not give the Lords of Baseball enough credit for Boldly Stepping Up And Addressing The Problem. It is not, shall we say, a flashy solution, or a marketable one, and it is one that implicitly admits that players and umpires have been collectively borking the rule all long. 

As a result, we will get The Pitch Clock, which is a nice way of saying they're going to make a splashy knee-jerk reaction without actually considering the gameplay implications of said change because they think doing so will get Bob Costas to stop frenemy-nagging them about how games last 2:47 instead of 2:42. Speaking as a game developer, I can already see about four exploits in the pitch clock model that the Joe Maddons of the world are going to make ruthless use of whenever Pitch Clock graduates to the bigs. but that only matters if you're interested in fixing the problem instead of winning a momentary PR battle. 

I do look forward to the day when MLB actually puts a game designer or two on staff to help them with the rules of their game. (See also: Home Run Derby, The Mangled Corpse Of). 

Until then, I'll keep writing pieces like this.

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