Spring Training might have only just begun, but the latest MLB controversy is already in midseason form. The new pitch clock is annoying fans and players alike, which means it's probably the safest rule in the book according to Rob Manfred.
If you don't know what the pitch clock is, it's essentially an NFL-style play clock that forces a pitcher to shorten the amount of time between pitches and cut down on excessive dillydallying that slows the game down.
That's the crux of the new rule, as it's meant to cut out stuff like pitchers taking a stroll around the mound or batters wandering out of the batter's box before tightening their gloves and slapping every joint on their body as part of their at-bat ritual.
The penalty for a pitcher failing to throw a pitch in time is that an automatic ball is recorded, whereas an automatic strike is called if the batter isn't ready and deemed attentive in time.
This has already affected the outcome of a game when a recent Red Sox-Braves contest ended on a pitch clock violation when the umpire determined a batter wasn't attentive at the eight-second mark -- which is a whole other element to this in leaving attentiveness up to the judgment of the umpire.
Find someone who loves you as much as baseball loves human error variables.
Twins almost get called for violating MLB's new pitch clock rule
On Wednesday in Fort Myers, the Minnesota Twins almost found themselves on the wrong side of the new rule.
After fouling off a pitch, Carlos Correa proceeded to casually walk around outside of the batter's box as players have done for decades. Except that's not allowed anymore and Correa nearly forgot about the new rule long enough to be called for it.
Luckily he hustled back to the box and wasn't called for a violation
So far the Twins haven't been on the wrong side of the new rule, but it feels like only a matter of time before every team in baseball goofs up.
In fact, it's only a matter of time before this new rule truly changes the outcome of a game. Remember a few postseasons ago when an epic Giants-Dodgers Wild Card game ended on a called third strike on a check swing? That was an absolutely unconscionable way for San Francisco's season to end, but it will be nothing compared to when a postseason game is decided by a pitch clock violation.
It's coming, you can just feel it in your bones.
For what it's worth, average game durations are down in Spring Training which seems to suggest the rule is working. That doesn't mean everyone is used to the new rule yet and it's only a matter of time before every team in baseball gets bitten by it.