Way back in November, a pitch clock for the 2018 season already looked very likely. It was just a matter of whether the league and the players agreed to how many seconds the clock would actually be — would it be 20? A few seconds less? A few more?
Then earlier this week, it looked like the players might just be rolling over on that issue and allowing commissioner Rob Manfred to put the new pace-of-play proposal into place regardless of their agreement. The way the current agreement between the union and the league stands, Manfred can put any rule changes in place as long as he gives a year’s notice. Which means the change will be that which he proposed last season, which encompasses reduced mound visits and a 20-second pitch clock.
The players have now formally rejected the league’s proposal and while Manfred can push things through reports also say that he may not be done trying to negotiate completely despite the players seeming fine with dropping things.
The one-year buffer matters in this case because in the most recent proposal there were some additions that brought things closer to the players’ wishes. So by deciding they wouldn’t get everything they wanted they compromised getting even a few things.
According to a report from The Athletic about the players allowing the rule changes to move forward without further negotiations, they have more concerns than just the length of the pitch clock and the mound visits that are set to be altered. And since they seemingly couldn’t manage to have those few stipulations go their way, they’re more than happy to have the league be the ones to unilaterally make the changes.
Whether that strategy, specifically hoping that fans will be so upset with the league’s new rules that they blame the league and the owners, pans out for them or not seems shaky at best. This can only really be a good thing for fans, as it shortens games at least slightly even if it’s not noticeable every game, and even if that’s not the case the negative side of this probably won’t be drastic enough to come down on the league anyway.
Yet another miscalculation of how to gain the upper hand by the MLBPA. Color me shocked.
We’ll see how this pans out for the union and their long-term strategy to make the league look bad, but right now it just looks like they played the wrong hand and are allowing something that was always going to happen to happen without getting anything for themselves.