Baseball, more than any other sport, is a purist game. The most influential people and often the biggest fans love the game for not just what it is, but how it is. They resist change to their core. Yet most people today can no longer deal with the length of games, the pace of play, and the general lack of excitement.
To combat declining interest in the game, this offseason the MLB is looking at making a few, quite large, rule changes to make the game shorter and more entertaining. Although it looks like the league will go another year without making these changes, they’ll almost certainly come up again next year.
1. Universal Designated Hitter(DH)
Few rule changes are as controversial amongst the purists and the new age fans as this one. To me, this change makes sense for a few reasons. Pitchers used to be not terrible hitters, like many are today. That’s because they used to always have to hit. Now, you see people becoming specialized pitchers as soon as youth rules stop saying that every kid has to get and at-bat. So now, when they’re in the MLB you got some schumck that hasn’t faced live, in-game pitching since they were 16 years old, facing off against some other dude who’s been specializing in pitching since the same age. Not a fair contest.
Baseball is unique in that depending on what side of the league you’re in, a major rule is vastly different. Imagine of the NFC wasn’t allowed to use punters unless they’re playing at an AFC stadium. It’s ridiculous. Let’s be real here. There are a lot of good hitters sitting on benches in the NL because they don’t have a starting spot in the field. So now you get his bat maybe once a game. No, I’m not for that. I want to see the best talent vs. the best talent as often as possible.
2. 20-Second Pitch Clock
To be completely honest I’m torn on this one. On the one hand I don’t like that forced nature of this. Something about it just doesn’t sit right with me and I can’t really put what it is into words, which is probably bad to admit as a sports blogger. Just doesn’t feel right. On the other hand, something needs to be done about pace of play, and this is one of the biggest steps in correcting that. Have you ever watched David Price pitch? My God it’s infuriating to see him throw a pitch and have to wait like forty second for him to throw another one. It’s things like that that leads to games being routinely over three hours. Personally I think it should be more of an un-written rule like “hey throw the freaking ball man, let’s get this thing going”.
3. Three Batter Minimum for Relievers
Another pace of play issue that can be infuriating for the casual fan. If you understand the strategy behind baseball (yes I promise it exists) then you get why managers will bring in a reliever to face one hitter. This is especially true in today’s analytics driven game. I have no problem with this for the regular season. If you put in a pitcher, he should be good enough to hold his own for a few guys, who in that length of stretch likely hit from both sides of the plate. Carrying a lefty-specialist on your regular season roster all year grinds my gears. I think the MLB should pull a pseudo-NHL move and not have it during the regular season, but allow it in the playoffs. Similarly to how the NHL has shootouts in the regular season, but continuous overtime in the playoffs.
Verdict: Yay for regular-season Nay for post-season
4. Extra-Innings Base Runner
One of the more radical rule changes, this proposition would have a base runner on second base at the start of the 11th inning. The intent is to ensure you don’t have games that last 15-innings and go all night. However, that quite rare, and much like the pitch clock, it’s not authentic to baseball. I will admit I like the idea of it in a setting like the World Baseball Classic, but it has no place in the day-to-day play of the MLB.
5. Reducing Mound Visits
Teams are currently allowed six mound visits a game, and the rule wants to reduce it to four in 2019 and three in 2020. I don’t like that one bit, and I genuinely don’t think it would have much of an effect on length of games. Teams often don’t use all six visits in a game. There’s really just no need for this.
This rule is confusing as hell and I have no idea how to could enforce it. The gist is to get teams to try to stay competitive when they suck so they can’t just mail it in in May to get a top draft pick. It’s a good idea that all sports should adopt, but especially the MLB. It’s one thing to watch an NFL team tank 16-games but to watch a team purposely be bad for 162-games…….7 F*****G MONTHS! Ya, no thanks. That’s how you lose fans that likely aren’t coming back to baseball. To be clear I love the rule, however it needs revisions to make it more clear before it can pass.