Gino Spadaro: February, 25, 2017
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, has been relentlessly trying to implement new rules in order to make baseball more entertaining. He has said he is trying to improve the game, but many people, including current players, think he may be going a bit too far.
Manfred’s new ideas are mainly aimed at speeding up the game in order to keep younger viewers engaged. Start to finish time of the games is not his concern, the pace of the game and action happening with less pauses in between is. This is understandable because with the recent rise in popularity of the NBA and NFL due to the pace of those games, baseball has lost quite a bit of its popularity among its younger viewers.
Manfred’s new rule ideas consist of implementing a 20-second pitch clock, limiting mound visits from players, automatic intentional walks and getting rid of the low strike zone. According to Sports Illustrated, the ball was not put in play last season 30.8% of the time, which marked an all time low in the MLB. Due to this, the ball entered play approximately once every 3 minutes and 25 seconds. If implemented, Manfred believes his new rules will make pitchers less dominant and that they will throw more pitches that are easier to hit. His main goal seems to turn baseball into a more offense-dominant sport, rather than pitching.
Manfred seems to be on his own with these ideas though. The players union refused to agree to these rule changes for the upcoming 2017 season. Manfred has expressed his disappointment with the union and has said that if the disagreement from them continues, he will exercise his right as the commissioner of the MLB to implement these rules by himself with no other say from anyone else for the 2018 season. So I guess it’s safe to say that there will be new rule changes for the 2018 season, regardless if the players agree or not.
Is baseball a slow game? Absolutely. 100%. But that has been the nature of the game ever since it was created. Baseball isn’t football or basketball, and isn’t fast paced. I understand that if it continues the way it is, then the younger viewers will stop watching, but there are better ways to go about it. If a 20-second pitch clock is implemented, then it can throw pitchers off of their routine and lead to gross performances, which seems to almost be what Manfred wants. You shouldn’t rush pitchers. I also do not like the intentional walk rule. By just using a signal, you get rid of the possibility of human error. What if it’s 2nd and 3rd, bottom of the 9th and the best hitter is up to bat in a tie game. If the pitcher has to throw the intentional walk pitches, it’s possible he sails one over the catcher and the runner can advance from 3rd and win the game. But with a signal, you get rid of that possible excitement.
A rule change that I would not mind is, if you really are worried about people not coming to games anymore or not watching, then shorten the season down. Why do people go to NBA or NFL games? Because the opportunities are limited. If I am contemplating going to a MLB game, it’s easy for me to say “Well, they will have 70+ other games at home, so I can always go to one of those at a later time”. If there is a rule, it should be the shorten the 162 game schedule down to like 110-120 games.
Baseball has always been the way it is today. Why change the game now?