Spring training just started for the 2017 MLB season, and new faces get roster invites in the hopes of making a big-league 40-man roster.
That also means that new rules and regulations go into effect for the upcoming season. Unfortunately for baseball fans, both new and old school, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred keeps messing with tradition.
A little over a month ago, he came out with a plan to change the pace of play and speed up the game again.
This comes after a couple years prior, where he first suggested a pitch clock in between pitches, because there were times where it would take a couple of minutes in between pitches, with hitters stepping out of the batter’s box and taking their sweet time to step in the box again to be ready for the next pitch.
Every rule that has been suggested by Manfred will make its test through the minor leagues.
Surprisingly, the pitch clock idea did benefit the pace of play during its test. In an online article written by talkingchop.com, writer Eric Cole interviewed some players of the Atlanta Braves farm system who had been playing with the pitch clock rule.
After a full minor league season using the pitch clock in Double-A and Triple-A leagues, the cut-down time of games was on average 6-16 minutes.
The newest rule change that Manfred wanted was to change the way extra innings are handled. This is the one rule that should never be messed with for the simple fact that some of the greatest moments in baseball history have happened in extra innings.
Manfred wants to implement a new rule for extra innings by putting a runner on second base to start an inning. This is exactly what softball does as well. Manfred believes the game play will speed up, but it’s unproven.
Theoretically speaking, if you start out a with a runner on second base in extra innings, you would have your first hitter bunt the runner over to third base. With one out and a runner on third, you’re asking the hitter to hit a deep enough fly ball to the outfield where it will be an easy sacrifice fly.
Planning it out sounds simple, but it isn’t that easy. I am all for speeding up the game process, but putting a runner on second base to start an inning just seems logically the same as starting an inning with no runners on base.
For example, we wouldn’t have nicknamed Derek Jeter “Mr. November” when he hit that home run off Byung-Hyun Kim in game 4 of the 2001 World Series. As if the United States of America wasn’t already rooting for the Yankees to win the championship after tragedy struck the “Big Apple” two months earlier in the 9/11 attacks. This game also followed the previous night’s action when former President George W. Bush threw the best ceremonial first pitch in history, giving thumbs up to the nation letting everyone know the U.S. is united.
The impossible happened last year when the Chicago Cubs ended the “Billy Goat Curse” and won the 2016 World Series Championship.
The deciding game of a series is always the most exciting, plus the storyline of two teams battling it out for winning a championship that neither has held in a long time for either franchise.
The game was tied at 6 after eight exciting innings of baseball and then heavy rain decided to join the party. After completing nine innings with the score tied, the umpires called for a rain delay, so baseball fans were left anxious, waiting to see if there was going to be more baseball that night.
Luckily the rain delay was a short 17 minutes. The Chicago Cubs took full advantage of the delay and put two runs on the board, and the pitching took care of the bottom half inning and won the Cubs its first title in 108 years.
The latest rule that Manfred is trying to ruin baseball with is the intentional walk rule. The rule would be a sign given from the manager to the umpire signaling they want to intentionally walk a batter.
This would speed the game up a little bit, but it does not guarantee that you are going to have MLB managers walking hitters more than once or twice in a game. Is all that worth it to add up to a minute per game?
In recent years, we have had hitters get base hits off intentional walks, and one of the best parts is giving the pressure to the pitcher to hit a standing target outside of the strike zone and airmail the ball over his catcher’s head with a runner on base.
Out of 10 opportunities, there might be one or two blunders, but to baseball fans it is a great sight to see and you get a cheap laugh out of it.
Manfred needs to sit in his office and shut up. Leave America’s pastime alone and let it be played how it was invented over some 160 years ago. He is taking the fun out of the game and understandably trying to make it enjoyable and attract new fans, but prior commissioners have let rules stand and it worked out fine.