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Opening Day & The Pitch Clock

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Greetings from The Booth!

I’m writing this week’s post on one of the great days in sport: Opening Day. Countless writers have waxed poetic about Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, and I’m not sure I can add anything new or original, but as has been said many times, Opening Day signals the renewal of all things, a true rite of Spring, when the outfield grass is greener, the uniforms are whiter, and everyone is 0-0 and filled with optimism about the upcoming season.

It’s only been 3 years since the Washington Nationals won the 2019 World Series (although we won’t count the 2020 COVID-plagued season), and what a tumble it’s been from World Champs to a 107-loss 2022 campaign. Gone are most of the players who were a part of that Championship year as the Nats continue their rebuild. One of those players is Patrick Corbin, who gets the Opening Day start in DC.¬† The lefty had his struggles last year, and although we aren’t supposed to pay attention to wins and losses in today’s world of metrics, Corbin was 6-19 last season. Corbin is now a pitch-to-contact hurler, who by accounts has had a great off-season and is in great shape, and ready for a comeback year.

The Nationals will need him, because (again) Stephen Strasburg is on the shelf. Since his $240-plus million dollar extension several years ago, Strasburg has pitched 26 innings. Do the math, and that’s almost $10 million¬†per inning!¬† Pretty good money if you can get it. Unfortunately for the Nats, they are probably stuck with Strasburg, hurt or healthy, because no one is going to want to pick up that contract.

As Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo continues his rebuild, the future does look bright with a restocked farm system and several promising young prospects on the Opening Day roster. Patience is not in the lexicon of most fans who basically want to win now, but a realistic expectation level should be set for the 2023 season. Still, unexpected things can happen. You only need to look 40 miles away from Washington to see an example of that. The Orioles, another team in rebuild mode, contended for a Wild Card spot most of last season with a group of youngsters who had a collective “why not us?” attitude. Again, everything is rosy on Opening Day.

One of the things you’ll see this year when you go to an MLB game is the pitch clock. Generally, I’m a baseball traditionalist, but as games become longer and longer, younger fans have become less interested in the pastoral pace of the “grand old game,” so I’m generally for the pitch clock. Something had to be done to attract a younger demographic. No one wants to see a pitcher pace around the mound after each pitch, fidgeting with his uniform, going to the resin bag a dozen times, while the batter adjusts his batting gloves and takes forever digging into the box. It’s estimated that this change will cut 26 minutes on average from the length of a major league game.

As football has long since become “America’s Pastime,” baseball is now on the clock.

Until the next visit from The Booth, have a great Opening Day!

RW

 

 

 

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