Radical Baseball: On the Clock.


How many times have you heard some moron rhapsodize that baseball is great because it does not have a clock?  Incorrect and dumb.  There is a clock but it is not enforced and it does not go far enough.  Below are some rules that are pertinent.  By the way if you want to make yourself sick, cruise through section 8, which covers pitching rules.  The minutia and absurdity will make your skin crawl and you can clearly see why allowing pitching to have become so dominant is the single biggest reason that baseball has slowed so much that it is unwatchable.


8.03 When a pitcher takes his position at the beginning of each inning, or when he relieves another pitcher, he shall be permitted to pitch not to exceed eight preparatory
pitches to his catcher during which play shall be suspended. A league by its own action may limit the number of preparatory pitches to less than eight preparatory pitches. Such
preparatory pitches shall not consume more than one minute of time. If a sudden emergency causes a pitcher to be summoned into the game without any opportunity to warm up, the umpire-in-chief shall allow him as many pitches as the umpire deems necessary.

8.04 When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.”
The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball.
The intent of this rule is to avoid unnecessary delays. The umpire shall insist that
the catcher return the ball promptly to the pitcher, and that the pitcher take his position on the rubber promptly. Obvious delay by the pitcher should instantly be penalized by the umpire.

Rule 8.05(e) Comment: A quick pitch is an illegal pitch. Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted.


1. The one minute and 12 second rules are not enforced.

2. There could be a conflict between the 12 second rule and the quick pitch rule depending on implementation and interpretation.

If the Major Baseball League (MBL) wanted to enforce these rules it could and it could remove any conflict between the rules.  Why does it not?

I can understand that greed trumps all and that allowing more than one minute between half innings permits more commercials and that means more revenue, especially for bigger games on national TV.  The bigger the game the longer the commercial interruption.  I get that.

But what about the delay between pitches?  That’s what really sucks the life out of the game.  “the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box” before the first pitch.  If the batter simply remains in the batters box the batter should remain “reasonably set”.  Makes sense, right?  So why do MBL umpires permit the batter to step out of the box on every pitch and wander aimlessly before needing to reset?  No commercials are run.  Those on screen ads behind home plate have only been around in recent seasons but the protocol of batters wandering goes back many more seasons.  Why would an industry permit something that NOBODY likes and that EVERYBODY wants changed?  Even the no clock people agree.  So what the heck?

Let’s drift back to the genesis of Radical Baseball:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 Radical Baseball (written June 9, 2006)

6. Clock, time-outs

Put in a damn clock! These four hour games are driving me crazy! I wouldn’t mind except there’s nothing happening. 90% of what passes for action is two guys playing catch. In a nine inning game there is at most 30 minutes of action and that includes the batter taking a pitch and the second baseman throwing out a runner. Make what little action there is continuous. Watch a basketball game to get the idea. Baseball is by far the simplest game. 70% of head coaches in the NFL never played in the NFL. 30% of head coaches in the NBA never played in the NBA. 10% of MLB managers never played MLB. That’s a pretty accurate reflection of the relative complexity of the sports. Football cannot leave the running of a team to some dumb former player. Basketball is about in between football and baseball. Only baseball entrusts a $100,000,000 to $200,000,000 payroll to a dumb tobacco dribbling former player. Why? Because baseball is simple. There are at least 10,000 twelve year old kids who know enough baseball to run a MLB team. I could run the Yankees. No way I could run the Knicks and I wouldn’t even think about running the football Giants.

So, why is baseball the only sport with no clock and with unlimited meetings? Give each team three time outs per nine innings, then one more for each additional three innings. No meetings other than the time outs. Do not stop play by calling time. A base runner does not need time out to dust off his uniform. Get in the box and stay there. Get on the rubber and throw. Once, just once, I’d like to see a meeting on the mound followed by the pitcher not looking in for a sign. He just talked to the catcher! Decide on the pitch in the discussion and just throw it!

A team could get a competitive advantage by changing the pace of the game. Only baseball teams do not attempt this. Twenty years ago the San Francisco 49’ers started games with their first 20 plays scripted; no huddle between plays. Baseball cannot do that for even one batter! How difficult can it be? Just start pitching without waiting for a sign!

Baseball … needs a twenty second rule with runners on base and a zero second rule with no runners. Just start throwing. If the batter is not in the box, too bad. If the batter wanders, call strikes. If the pitcher wanders, call balls. What passes for coaching is instructing both the batter and pitcher to make the other wait. Hey, you’re both making the fans wait.


You can follow the personal baseball blog of Kenneth Matinale here: Radical Baseball