Major League Baseball is on the Clock

Baseball is back tomorrow. I could wax poetic about what it means to have the game nestled up against my eyeballs night after night and day after day, how baseball is a subtle companion, carrying me through the cricket chirp-filled summer nights. I could placate you with the usual "Cardinals Opening Day is the Bestest" stuff local sports writers love to expose the Mound City patrons to (Ozzie’s wearing a red jacket… look a Clydesdale). I could even rip off a former Viva El Birdos columnist who Irish Goodbyed this website like a drunk at a party, embarrassed he hit on the host’s wife but I’m not gonna do that (mainly because I already have—miss you RB).

I’m also not gonna provide you a preview of what to expect from this team because everyone and their kin have already concluded the St. Louis Cardinals will win the Central Division and lose in the post season like they’ve done with regularity lately. Some say Cardinals fans are spoiled because we usually make the playoffs and some say the Redbirds are no good because it’s been a while since they actually won a playoff game. I could rehash all that but it doesn’t entertain me and the main reason I exist (near as I can tell anyway) is to entertain me.

No, I’ve decided to write me a Mount Rushmore Listicle like a typical internet scribe. And as my topic I have chosen to write about the moments I will miss now that major league baseball has decided to speed up the game by installing a pitch clock. So without adieu-ing any further, here’s what I will miss about the old clockless era of major league baseball.

Long Winded Stories by Storied Announcers

Is there anything better than sitting back and listening to Jim Edmonds tell a borderline sexist story triggered by a Rick Ankiel text? What about another brad Thompson tale about the 2006 Cardinals? I mean, how can it even be televised baseball if I’m not listening to some former player fill the air with his self-indulgence? What will I have to do instead? Listen to actual analysis of the game happening before my face? Boo.

Batters Stepping out Every Pitch to Adjust Themselves

Some people thought the best part of 2006 was winning the World Series. Others opt for that crazy NLCS against the Mets. But for me, the best part of 2006 was watching current Marlins Manager Skip Schumaker step out of the box and adjust his batting gloves on every pitch. Stepping out, spitting, adjusting the cup, readjusting the helmet, stepping back in, putting your hand up to call time: that’s an at-bat baby. This current little league looking crap wherein the batter has to get in the box AND be ready to hit? What even is that? Not for me, yo. I guess I’ll adjust in time (provided MLB even allows me the time to do such) but I won’t like it.

Pitchers Stepping Off the Rubber with the Bases Empty

The cat and mouse game that pitchers play with batters is an essential example of the game within the game. Batter steps out and adjusts himself to be ready to hit? Can’t have that. If he pulls that move, your pitcher better step off the mound and force that batter right back out of the box. "We’re doing this on my terms muchacho" he says with the bravado of body language one can only achieve on a foot-high hill. "I’m holding the ball here and you will do what I want. So what if this exchange has taken a minute and a half? Not like we’re getting paid by the hour here."

Multiple Pickoff Attempts

Two outs, runner on first, tying run at the plate, one ball count and… snap throw over to first. Didn’t get him. Pitcher gets on the rubber, comes set, gets his sign and throws to first again. Runner back in standing because his run means nothing and if he gets picked off his teammates will razz him for being a doofus. Pitcher comes set again. Batter asks for time. Steps out. Batter back in the box. Pitcher comes set and.. over to first again. Wow, what drama! Whenever we see this next pitch I’ll bet something really important happens. I mean, how can you not enjoy suspense like that?

Look, I get it. I know baseball fans who had to switch from hard liquor to beer just to make sure they were awake come the 7th inning. Baseball was taking too long. But did they really have to take away so much of baseball’s negative space just to appease a bunch of folks who wanted to be in bed before midnight on a weekday? I mean, if that’s the problem, just shave three innings off the game and keep the really good stuff. Think about all the color analyst stories that will go untold or (worse yet) unfinished. Think about missing all the Juan Soto-esque between-pitch rituals that won’t push the emphasis from the game into the behavior and antics of one man. Think about the needless pickoff attempts that stall the inevitable ninth inning delivery. What will we do without all these things that have made baseball what it is for the past few decades?

I don’t know. Sometimes I think Manfred doesn’t understand what’s good for the game.