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Major League Baseball doesn't need a pitch clock

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Major league baseball has begun experimenting with ways to speed up the pace of the game. The use of a pitch clock is one bad idea that should be scrapped.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball is America's national pastime. It has always been a sport of leisure. By it's very nature, baseball is different from other sports, in that there is no clock, and no pressure to get the game over with before nine innings have been completed. Now, there are some who would ruin the baseball experience by introducing a clock.

The "pace of the game" has been a growing concern among baseball team owners, and new commissioner, Rob Manfred. A 20 second pitch clock was used on an experimental basis in the Arizona fall league for the first time last autumn, and is to be used in double-A and triple-A minor league games during the 2015 season.

Manfred said in an interview with ESPN:

"Pace of play is an issue that's driven by our society today. Our society is a very fast-paced society. Attention spans are shorter. I think that it's very important to us at least symbolically to say we understand that you want this to move as quickly as possible and we're going to continue to modernize the game without harming its traditions in a way that makes it more enjoyable and more attune to the society that we live in."

In reality, this is about money, like every other idea that comes out of the commissioner's office. Drug testing? They're worried about the image of the game -- a marketing concern. Instant replay?  More marketing. Designated hitter?  Offense is more popular than a scoreless tie. Speeding up the game? A three hour time slot fits much easier in a network schedule.

Pitch clocks are not the only method of speeding up the game that is under consideration. Batters could be required to remain in the batter's box between pitches, until they either hit the ball or strike out. Visits to the mound, by both catchers and managers, could be limited. Managers coming out of the dugout, stalling for time while their video guys check whether they should appeal an umpire's call should soon be a thing of the past. All of these ideas have some merit, and would eliminate unnecessary delays. But a pitch clock is going too far.

Imagine what a pitch clock would do to baseball games. Every pitch would become a race against the clock. There would be a clock on your television screen, counting down the seconds before every pitch. That clock would be the focus of the broadcasters, shifting focus from what strategy might be used, or what is happening on the bases. A game could be won or lost because a pitcher didn't get a pitch off in under 20 seconds.

Pitch clocks would lead to arguments about whether or not a pitch was thrown before the clock expired, or whether the clock was started too late or too early. We'd be watching replays in slow motion of the pitcher's arm going forward as the clock counts down, seeing whether the ball was released before the clock struck zero.

The notion that a pitch clock would not harm baseball's tradition is just silly. The fact that baseball does not use a clock is what makes the game unique and enjoyable.