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Carroll’s Column: Pitch Clock Complications

Pitch Clock From Centerfield - Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

NEW YORK– We’ve reached the 10-game mark of MLB’s regular season, where any and every baseball fan has an opinion on what will occur throughout the course of 162 games. There’s so much time from mid-April to September, so rather than emphasizing division standings and statistics, let’s discuss the lead topic everywhere you go… 

There are several new baseball rules for the 2023 season, with the most attention-getting being the pitch clock. The goal is to shave off time from games, as too many of them were taking almost four hours to play.

I attended last Tuesday’s Phillies-Yankees game at Yankee Stadium. Not surprisingly, I got a wide array of opinions on baseball being on the clock for the first time. 

Yankees reliever Michael King said his biggest concern would be having less time in the bullpen to get ready since the game will be moving at a faster pace. He also thought many fans would miss crucial plays in a game because it is moving faster.

Michael King – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

King raises valid points. Having to get loose faster can lead to injuries, especially for veteran pitchers whose arms have accumulated a lot of wear and tear. This must be concerning to Mets fans since their team’s best relievers, Adam Ottavino and David Robertson, are baseball senior citizens at 37. Too many people are addicted to their smartphones to put them away and concentrate on the game. 

Former Mets pitcher, and current team broadcaster, Ron Darling was at this game in his capacity with Turner Sports which was televising it nationally. Darling liked the fact games would take less time, but thought the clock should either be turned off, or extended in time before penalties would be assessed, in the ninth inning. I like his idea and suggested the same rules for a relief pitcher’s save, meaning the run difference between the teams in the last frame should be three runs or less before the clock rules would be altered. Darling concurred with my proposal.

Phillies outfielder Jake Cave was voicing his disgust with the pitch clock to his teammates when I entered that team’s clubhouse. As a hitter, he does not want to feel rushed when he is facing a pitcher who is throwing more than 90 MPH. 

Pitch Clock in Between Batters – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

I mentioned to Cave how the Mets’ Jeff McNeil was called for a strike by the umpire because he was waiting for Pete Alonso to return to first base from second after a foul ball. He wanted him to be able to catch his breath in case he had to run on the next pitch.

“I saw that play. I would have done the same thing and taken the strike. It is like getting a ticket from a red-light camera because you did not want to risk a rear-end collision on a busy street,” Cave said. 

Phillies general manager Dave Dombrowski was philosophical. He felt the players would get used to the changes and come to embrace them. “They have always been told to be successful in baseball, you must slow the game down. We are now telling them to speed it up, so resistance is understandable.”     

The Better Sports City? Philly or New York? 

Former Mets pitcher, and current Phillies star, Zack Wheeler told me he is still in touch with Mets catcher Tomás Nido. He spoke highly of Nido’s ability to call games when he was pitching in Flushing. 

Phillies Zack Wheeler facing the Mets in 2021 – Image Credit: Latino Sports

I asked Wheeler to compare New York sports fans with those in Philadelphia. He gave the edge in intensity to Philadelphians, but it came with a qualifier. “There are way more sports teams, and other things to do in New York than there are in Philadelphia.”

Phillies’ Garrett Stubbs and Team Israel 

Garrett Stubbs is the Phillies backup catcher to JT Realmuto. Stubbs, who is Jewish, was the starting catcher for Team Israel in the recent World Baseball Classic. Stubbs was proud of the fact Israel now has three baseball fields whereas there were none just a few years ago. Soccer and basketball are still the big sports in Israel, but baseball is now clearly on the radar screen. Baseball in Israel is akin to where it was in Italy 30 years ago. Mets legend Mike Piazza was the manager for Team Italy in the 2023 WBC. 

Stubbs told me he is constantly in contact with his Team Israel mates, many of whom are playing with other MLB teams or are in the minors. “We’ve been texting ‘Zissen Pesach!’ (Hebrew for sweet Passover) to each other,” he said with a smile. 

Yankees reliever Ron Marinaccio – Native of Toms River, New Jersey

Ron Marinaccio – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Yankees relief pitcher Ron Marinaccio is from Toms River, New Jersey, and went to many Lakewood BlueClaws games when he was growing up. “I pitched in a few games in First Energy Park (their home field) when I played on the Toms River High School North team.” Marinaccio also pitched for the Yankees AA farm team in Somerset, NJ. “I have lived all over the Garden State,” he said with a chuckle. 

On the Record HBO Show Canceled 

Legendary broadcaster, and Astoria native, Bob Costas told me his monthly “On the Record” HBO show was canceled. Although it is nominated for several Sports Emmy Awards this year (the ceremony will take place next month in Manhattan), Costas says the show was too expensive for HBO’s parent company, Warner Brothers Discovery, to continue. The ill-advised merger between Discovery Networks and Warner Media has cost many their jobs and has been bleeding billions of dollars. 

Mets Broadcast Booth on 1970’s Rock Bands

Mets broadcasters Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez are always a fun listen even when the Mets are getting blown out of a game, as was the case last Tuesday night in Milwaukee when the Brewers stomped all over them, 9-0. They were discussing the merits of 1970s rock bands, Kansas, Queen, and Styx. 

MJF at UBS Arena – All Elite Wrestling (AEW)

Speaking of music, last Wednesday All Elite Wrestling (AEW) star Maxwell Jacob Friedman, showed he could carry a tune as he performed a flawless version of the standard “Pennies from Heaven” backed by a full orchestra during a show at the UBS Arena which was broadcast live on TBS. Friedman, better known by his initials MJF, grew up in Plainview, was honored with the key to Oyster Bay Township by town supervisor Joe Saladino last Monday. 

Although he did not say anything about it at the UBS Arena show, Friedman and his mom took to Twitter to blast AEW for holding a show on Long Island on the first night of Passover, forcing him to miss his family’s seder.

New York International Auto Show 

Honda returned to the New York International Auto Show, but Audi and Mercedes-Benz continue to be missing. Toyota assumed more space at Javits Center than any other car manufacturer. It displayed a NASCAR vehicle used by driver Martin Truex, Jr. In addition, Toyota gave attendees an opportunity to shoot basketballs in a wheelchair to show how difficult a task that is. Toyota is a sponsor of the Paralympic Games.

You can read more of Lloyd Carroll’s columns posted weekly on The Queens Chronicle.

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