Max Scherzer, New York Mets (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The pitch clock has not had universal popularity among MLB players. Max Scherzer thinks he can improve it, but his idea might actually make it worse.
The MLB is rolling out a pitch clock this season, and as players have used spring training to get adjusted to the new rule added to make the game speedier and more interesting to consumers, it hasn’t been without bumps.
Both batters and pitchers that are more of the methodical variety don’t like being rushed along by the clock, and have expressed distaste as they’ve gotten adjusted to the new timer that will penalize pitchers and batters if they aren’t in the box or starting their wind-up before a certain time in the countdown.
New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer is one of the clock’s opponents. But instead of resisting it entirely, he’s trying to offer solutions. Unfortunately, his proposition has more potential to make the pitch clock worse, not better.
Max Scherzer thinks the pitch clock should be on at umpire’s discretionMax Scherzer thinks the pitch clock should be turned off at the umpire’s discretion.
“I just wish MLB would give the umpires the ability to turn the clock off. You don’t see any violations. As long as the hitters are playing at speed, we’re all playing at pace, if the umpire wants to, let the umpire turn the clock off and we just play baseball.”
– Max Scherzer pic.twitter.com/S4F58xRyEg
— SNY (@SNYtv) March 24, 2023
This, at face value, might not be the worst idea, but the more you think about it, the more you realize this is medicine hidden in cheese. All Scherzer is proposing here is that the umpires have even more of a heavy hand on how games play out.
That hasn’t exactly worked out really well in other areas. Umpires with different strike zones makes things inconsistent and is largely disliked. Some umpires will even call wildly different strike zones for different batters. That’s why the league is trending toward pulling control away from umpires, not giving them more discretion.
Allowing umpires to turn the clock off is going to entirely defeat the purpose of having implemented the pitch clock in the first place. Worse, if a game is played for six innings with the clock off, and an umpire decides to turn it back on in the seventh inning, pitchers and batters alike who have gotten used to playing the day without it might struggle to get re-adjusted to it midgame.
This is a galaxy-brain solution to the pitch clock when there’s a far easier solution that most of the league has already come to terms with: Just getting used to the clock and accepting it.