For the most part, the vibes were immaculate during yet another Mets Opening Day victory. Despite facing the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner in Sandy Alcantara, New York found a way to make him work and pile up enough runs to win.
Alcantara faced Jeff McNeil with runners on the corners in the sixth inning while the Mets held onto a 2-0 lead. The reigning MLB batting champion fouled off the first pitch of his at-bat from Alcantara to put himself in an 0-1 hole. But before he had a chance to see another pitch, it became an 0-2 hole because Pete Alonso took too long to get back to first base:
Jeff McNeil was given a strike by the plate umpire after Pete Alonso took too long getting back to first base pic.twitter.com/GbEb8ch6gD
— SNY (@SNYtv) March 30, 2023
This didn’t seem fair. Yes, not just the hitter and pitcher need to have their head on a swivel with MLB’s new pitch clock. But still, as Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling said on the SNY broadcast, it doesn’t make sense to penalize the hitter in this scenario when they did nothing wrong.
Thankfully, McNeil bailed out his buddy by bouncing this single up the middle to drive in a run:
JEFF MCNEIL DOING WHAT HE DOES BEST! pic.twitter.com/i3kTYYuAuP
— SNY (@SNYtv) March 30, 2023
Even though McNeil has signed his extension and Pete is waiting for his, where do you think he took the second baseman out to dinner Thursday night as a thank you?
Overall, it seems like the pitch clock’s regular-season debut went well. There continue to be small hiccups like this, but it didn’t seem to make a big impact in the grand scheme of things during Opening Day festivities.
However, this situation during the Mets and Marlins game just solidifies a point Max Scherzer had made previously this spring (and again after his start). When asked about his thoughts on the first regular-season game with MLB’s new rules, the right-hander said this (quote via SNY):
I love the pace, I don’t like the clock. I’ll double-down on that. I think the umpires should have discretion and turn the clock off.
Umpires do have more leeway with re-setting the clock given certain situations (foul balls, etc.). We also saw that on display a couple of times in Miami. But Max has a point. If the pace of the game is good, umpires should have the power to turn it off. And if things start to slow down, they should have the power to turn it back on.
After all, they already have more power in enforcing these rules. Why not reward players and take that potential pressure off if the pace is brisk and acceptable? There’s no way something like this will happen right now, and maybe not this year. But as we continue to get more pitch-clock data from regular-season MLB games, you’d have to imagine there’ll be legitimate proposals on how to improve it.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. But we can’t wait too long, or else we’ll get penalized for it.
MORE ON ESNY:
• Pete Alonso arrives to Opening Day in ‘eye-opening’ fit
• We need to talk about Yankees unretiring numbers … again
• Giants are wielding their Saquon Barkley leverage
• Yankees could get rewarded in MLB Draft by promoting Anthony Volpe
• Tylor Megill gets accidental Mets Opening Day start for 2nd straight year
You can reach Matt Musico at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.