Saturday’s Red Sox-Braves spring training game ended in a way never before seen by Major League Baseball fans.
With Boston and Atlanta deadlocked at 6-6 in the bottom half of the ninth inning at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla., Cal Conley was rung up on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded and two outs. Before Red Sox right-hander Robert Kwiatkowski could throw the all-important pitch, home-plate umpire John Libka deemed the Braves second baseman violated MLB’s new pitch-clock rule. Since Conley apparently didn’t get set in the batter’s box within the allotted eight seconds, an automatic strike was called, the inning ended and the exhibition contest concluded in a tie.
The sequence was an overt reminder of one of the more impactful rule changes in league history, one that doesn’t sit well with former Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki.
“Damn joke is what it is,” Plawecki tweeted Saturday.
A Twitter user responded to Plawecki by saying the onus is on the batter to enter the box and get ready to swing. The new Pittsburgh Pirates backstop doesn’t see it that way.
“I’m sorry but your not a fan of the game if you want to see an automatic strike call in that situation when a guy has a chance to win the game,” Plawecki tweeted. “Doesn’t matter what team it is. Thats why we all compete.”
Time will tell if umpires are more lenient with the rule once the regular season is underway. If not, count on more frustration from players.