The MLB has been flirting with some rule changes over the past few years and they finally made them official on Friday. The league announced a new pitch clock as well as rules for defensive positioning to ban the shift, among other things, starting next season.
While these rule changes are in an attempt to speed up the game, not everyone is in favor of them. In fact, some people are very adamantly against them – or at least the way they’re being instituted.
One of those people is Boston Red Sox pitcher Matt Strahm.
Strahm sounded off on the new rule changes on Audacy’s “The Bradfo Sho” podcast.
“I think they’re unnecessary. They talk about the 26 minutes it’s saved in minor league baseball games, but what they don’t talk about is how many pitchers in between every inning are waiting for the extra 35 seconds that Major League Baseball has put in between innings for ad purposes,” Strahm said (1:35 in player above). “They talk about all this wanting to speed the game up. The one beautiful thing about baseball, to me, is there’s never been a clock in the game.”
There will be a 15-second clock for pitchers if the bases are empty. That goes up to 20 seconds if there is at least one runner on base.
The lack of communication between the league and players is one of the biggest issues for Strahm.
“It’s frustrating ‘cause I would be willing to bet 75-80% of players were willing to talk pitch clock or have a pitch clock but the fact that they didn’t listen to any input from us players on how to perfect the pitch clock and they just kind of rolled with what they had down in Triple-A and said here it is, we’re going to go with it is kind of frustrating,” Strahm continued. “But it’s been their track record to just do what they want and disregard the players’ inputs. So it’s not totally surprising but again it’s something that I don’t think was very – it wasn’t needed and it’s here and it is what it is.”
Along with the pitch clock, batters will only be allowed one timeout per plate appearance. That’s something that Strahm will look to exploit.
“My goal is going to be to get you to call time in the first two pitches because then after that it’s my pace… Now I can dictate the at-bat that way,” he said. “I think they did an absolutely poor job of talking to the players to discuss what is right and what is wrong and, in my opinion, they put the hitters behind the eight ball here with the one timeout per at-bat and it’s going to create a mess… But again, they want to dictate the rules. I’ll play by the rules but I’m going to dominate your rules.”
While the rules may be in place, it’s going to be up to the league to enforce them. This is a league that turned a blind eye to steroids for many years and may currently be doing the same on the other side of the ball.
“You talk about having the balls to enforce it. We still got pitchers cheating left and right in this league and Manfred doesn’t give a s–t to turn that rock over,” Strahm said. “It’s been proven with all the analytics and the data we have of what a spin rate of a fastball can humanly possibly be and it’s crazy that there are still people above that and they turn an eye to it.
“It’s his reputation on the line of how he wants to be remembered in the game and how he ran this game and so far, in my opinion, it hasn’t been going good and we’ll see how these rule changes affect it. I think it’s makeup over a black eye. It’s not changing anything. It’s still there but it is what it is.”
Strahm isn’t sure what baseball’s true motivation behind the rule changes may be if it’s not for the initial intention of simply speeding up the game. However, he said he hasn’t had a chance to give his input as he’s never even met Manfred during his seven-year career.
“I don’t know what his motivation behind it is but from the outside looking in it does look money-driven. At the same time, you look at it as money-driven then why is baseball not more available to the world to spread it to make more money,” he said. “I really don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know why they’re so fixated on these games being under three-and-a-half hours or under three hours or whatever the hell they want it to be.”
While MLB may be attempting to gather information and input before making decisions, they aren’t taking it into account enough, Strahm said.
“They’ve done a very poor job at getting the clubhouse’s opinion or at least listening to it. They did send people around and it was very well voiced that … the rule down in Triple-A is not the rule that needs to be here in the big leagues,” he said. “The pitch clock, guys were open to it with some alterations, but they didn’t even take into account that. They just did what they wanted, kind of like they’ve been doing for the last eight to 10 years.”
On the whole, Strahm doesn’t see the need for many of these changes and he isn’t afraid to voice his opinion.
“It just seems real petty. I don’t know what they’re trying to do with this game,” he said. “This game has been around for hundreds of years and people have loved this game for so long and now to sit here and change it with all these little nitpicking things, it’s frustrating.”
“My take from the whole thing is it’s a joke,” Strahm concluded. “From the way it’s going, they’re doing a pretty good job of killing the sport.