As Major League Baseball players and broadcasters adjust to the pitch clock, Bob Costas believes the new rule is more of a throwback.
The TBS’ MLB play-by-play voice recently joined CNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta to discuss baseball’s new focus on pace of play and its impact on broadcasters.
“A lot of people think of me as a traditionalist,” Costas admitted. “But I’ve always said the game has evolved over time. The question is, ‘Do they do it intelligently.’ Baseball is supposed to have a pleasing leisurely pace, not the plodding lethargic pace that it has too often had in recent seasons.”
Purists have touted unmeasured time as a cornerstone of baseball, but players have exhausted that freedom over the years. Costas noted that if you go back and watch classic games from decades ago, rarely did the pitcher or hitter violate the newly implemented 14-second pitch clock.
Players have had some growing pains with the pitch clock, but baseball fans almost unanimously love what the addition has done for the game’s pace of play. According to Baseball Reference, the average time to play nine innings during the 2022 MLB season was three hours and three minutes. Through two weeks this season, nine inning games are averaging just two hours and 37 minutes.
While baseball purists are often resistant to changing America’s pastime, the pitch clock is bringing back a pace that that the sport hasn’t been enjoyed in decades.
“This isn’t something entirely new,” Costas said. “It’s a return to the baseball that you and I knew not that long ago. People ask me about broadcasting the games, I’ve only done one so far, I’m doing two more this coming week [including Padres-Mets on TBS Tuesday]. But it wasn’t difficult at all, because it was basically the same pace that I remember when I was doing games on NBC in the ‘80s and ‘90s and it’s a better pace than what we’ve seen in the past decade or so.”
Costas takes pride in his game preparation and ability to frame a broadcast, but the 15-second pitch clock doesn’t eliminate those opportunities. There’s an art form to an announcer augmenting a broadcast. Vin Scully wasn’t great because he told stories during a game, he was great for his ability to seamlessly weave stories in and out of his play-by-play. Even with the 15-second pitch clock, there’s still plenty of time for announcers to incorporate stats, information, or narratives into a broadcast.