Red Sox pitcher blasts new MLB rule changes, calls out Rob Manfred originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Matt Strahm has opinions about Major League Baseball’s rule changes, and he’s not afraid to share them.
MLB recently announced three significant rule changes set to be implemented in 2023: a pitch clock of 15 seconds with the bases empty and 20 seconds with runners on; a ban of shifts that will force teams to have two fielders on each side of the second-base bag with both feet on the dirt; and the expansion of bases from 15 inches to 18 inches.
The pitch clock should help increase pace of play, and the league said pitch timers in the minor leagues have helped decrease average game time by 26 minutes. But there are pitch clock detractors, and Strahm, the Boston Red Sox’ veteran reliever, certainly is one of them.
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“I think they’re unnecessary,” Strahm told recently told Rob Bradford on Audacy’s “The Bradfo Sho” podcast. “They talk about the 26 minutes it’s saved in minor league baseball games, but what they don’t talk about is how many pitchers in between every inning are waiting for the extra 35 seconds that Major League Baseball has put in between innings for ad purposes.
“They talk about all this wanting to speed the game up. The one beautiful thing about baseball, to me, is there’s never been a clock in the game.”
In Strahm’s view, the pitch clock feels more like a mandate from on high than a collaborative decision between players and the league.
“It’s frustrating ‘cause I would be willing to bet 75-to-80 percent of players were willing to talk pitch clock or have a pitch clock. But the fact that they didn’t listen to any input from us players on how to perfect the pitch clock and they just kind of rolled with what they had down in Triple-A and said, ‘Here it is, we’re going to go with it,’ is kind of frustrating,” Strahm said.
“But it’s been their track record to just do what they want and disregard the players’ inputs. So it’s not totally surprising, but again, it’s something that I don’t think was needed.”
Strahm had particularly pointed criticism for Rob Manfred, accusing the MLB commissioner of being heavy-handed with these rule changes while failing to crack down on cheating among pitchers.
“You talk about having the balls to enforce it. We still got pitchers cheating left and right in this league and Manfred doesn’t give a s— to turn that rock over,” Strahm said.
” … It’s his reputation on the line of how he wants to be remembered in the game and how he ran this game and so far, in my opinion, it hasn’t been going good, and we’ll see how these rule changes affect it. I think it’s makeup over a black eye. It’s not changing anything.”
Strahm, who’s in his seventh MLB season with his third MLB team, likely isn’t the only pitcher who feels this way about the rule changes. But he’s definitely one of the most vocal.
“It just seems real petty. I don’t know what they’re trying to do with this game,” Strahm added.
“… My take from the whole thing is it’s a joke. From the way it’s going, they’re doing a pretty good job of killing the sport.”