The first at-bat took about 90 seconds. Padres center fielder Trent Grisham worked the count full before White Sox ace Lance Lynn struck him out with a fastball. The next at-bat took less than 30 seconds, a two-pitch groundout to shortstop. A minute later, Lynn threw his 11th pitch of the inning — an efficient number, but not unusual — and Jake Cronenworth flied out harmlessly to center field. It was the White Sox spring training opener, and the top half of the third inning had taken 3 minutes and 35 seconds.
In the booth for NBC Sports Chicago, veteran play-by-play man Jason Benetti and his longtime broadcast partner Steve Stone were not exactly confused, but they certainly were trying to get their bearings.
“The inning is over, I believe,” Stone said, disbelief in his voice.
“Are we talking faster?” Benetti asked, still on the air.
“I think so, yeah,” Stone answered as the broadcast went to a commercial break.
Benetti and Stone had worked together for seven years, and Stone had been an on-air analyst more than twice that long, but baseball’s new pitch clock waits for no one.
“It’s like waking up in a different hotel room, not knowing where you put your shoes, where the bathroom is, and the light doesn’t work,” Benetti said recently. “You’re walking to where you think it is, and you walk directly into a wall.”
Welcome to baseball broadcasting in 2023, where the best in the business are suddenly fumbling in the dark, trying not to stub their toes or bump into one another.
Their natural cadence and innate sense of timing?
“It feels extremely off for me,” Orioles play-by-play man Geoff Arnold said.
That done-it-a-thousand-times comfort of calling a game for a live audience?