A pitch clock has been used at Portland’s Hadlock Field and other Double-A ballparks since 2015. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

I can’t wait ’til next season.

Not just because the Boston Red Sox are playing out the string in this disappointing summer of baseball. Not just because young players like Brayan Bello and Triston Casas are staking their claim to be part of the 2023 team. Not just because I’m waiting to see if the Sox can figure out a way to keep Xander Bogaerts.

I’m really looking forward to next season because of the rule changes that were announced by Major League Baseball last week. Specifically, the pitch clock that will now govern the pace of play when things begin in April.

For more than a century baseball has been played without a clock. No more. Now pitchers will have 15 seconds to throw their next pitch when the bases are empty, and 20 seconds when there are runners on base. It’s an effort to pick up the pace and engage a younger generation of fans who don’t have the patience for 4-hour games.

The experiment of a pitch clock at the minor-league level has been a huge success, with Triple-A games 21 minutes shorter this season. Games that had taken 3:04 to play on average were now being completed in 2:43. That’s a major difference.

But this is not only about the length of the game. It’s about the action taking place during the game. With pitches coming in that quickly the action flows rapidly. You don’t have time to pick up your phone or change the channel if the pitcher is already delivering his next pitch.


As expected, players were not thrilled with the news. That’s completely understandable. Most players I’ve talked to in recent months expressed their concern that a pitch-clock violation could play too big a part in the outcome of a game.

Players have one interest, and one interest only. They want to win games. It’s what they do for a living. Owners and administrators who oversee the sport have to look at things through a wider lens. Baseball is entertainment. And games played at a quicker tempo are more entertaining.

“In the end what we want to do is make this a better product, right?” Red Sox manager Alex Cora asked reporters last week. “Certain people feel like this is part of that. Others, they’re against. But with time we will be able to adjust and we’ll be able to execute and hopefully the product is better.”

There will be two other changes for next year. One, the rule that will legislate infield shifts, is sure to create more action on the bases as more singles to the short outfield fall in for a hit. With two infielders on each side of second base, and none of them roaming into the outfield, defenders will now be allowed to show their athleticism as they range for balls in the holes. And hitters can worry about the pitches they are facing, as opposed to the algorithm that placed defenders at unexpected places around the field.

A third will see a slight increase in the size of the bases, with each base growing by 3 inches a side. That will increase stolen bases, with a slight decrease in distance between the bags.

Pitchers working faster. More base runners. More stolen-base attempts. This is more like the game we watched, and loved, as kids many years ago. It might be a new-age solution to a problem, but the end result should be an old-style excitement returning to the diamond in 2023.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN.

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