11 May 2023 A Pitch Clock For Your Money
Jason Gay has a great column this week about a baseball game he and his son attended between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, wherein he discusses the incredible impact of what in hindsight seems like a relatively minor tweak to the game: a pitch clock. The time it takes to play a full nine-inning game has been shortened significantly, and baseball—the game which in my opinion most closely resembles life itself—is now enjoying “a moment” again.
But the idea of a pitch clock would have been absolutely anathema—or at least entirely unimaginable—to a baseball fan just a decade ago. After all, one of the features rather than bugs of a baseball game is precisely that it is completely un-timed. But, while I hope they will suspend or at least amend the clock for the playoffs, it’s inarguable that something had to give for baseball to be a viable sport into the future, a future where, as the philosopher and theologian David Bentley Hart says, jazz and baseball are probably the most enduring legacies of this great nation.
As much as I’d love to write a regular baseball column, this one is really not about baseball so much as it is about the power of small tweaks and our amazing ability to adapt.
- Small Tweaks. The pitch clock is the simplest possible tweak: a 15 second countdown (20 if a runner is on base already). That’s it! The pitcher has the entirety of that time to come to the plate, and the batter just needs to be ready in the box by the time the countdown hits 8 seconds. If the pitcher violates the clock there’s an automatic ball, and an automatic strike in the case of a batter violation. This simple tweak has entirely revolutionized a game that has been around since at least the mid-19th century!
- Ability to Adapt. The amount of grousing that was done by all manner of people—from players to fans—about the idea of the pitch clock was immense. Though it was indeed a small tweak, the perception before its onset was one of impossibly immense proportions. Yet here we are! Everyone survived, and more people are enjoying baseball than they have in years.
So what are the money tweaks you might make that could have outsized impact? And are you underestimating your incredible human ability to adapt to those tweaks? Sometimes the tweaks are just math—reducing investment expenses and index underperformance are the classics that we discuss often. But what about your outlook on money? What about the language you use to describe money to your kids? What about the ways you approach giving your money away? What about your vocation and the role money plays in your career decisions?
Like Ryan discussed a couple of weeks ago, it’s all too easy to get stuck in ruts, and the inertia that keeps us in those ruts may be relatively harmless, but it may not be. In my mind, the ultimate power of small tweaks and our ability to adapt to them is that they are little kickstarters, just enough propulsion to get us over whatever humps have developed over years of habits. Worst case, you delete the tweak and jump back in the rut—maybe it wasn’t all that bad.
But the best case? Look, I don’t know what the best case is. But let’s just say that if we have succeeded in making baseball somewhat relevant again, just about anything is possible! And it’s super exciting to get to work with good folks who are willing to try.
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