Like anything in life, baseball is changing. Some may wonder if it is changing for the better. With the rule changes that have come out over the past few years, it is hard to not notice the change. The best question to the MLB Commissioner would be where do you draw the line in the sand? How much can the game change?
The game of baseball has been an ever-changing sport that seems to change a fraction every year. This year that was no different. The first major change that occurred is the three batter minimum. This limit will change many aspects of the bullpen and match-ups in later innings. Of course, if there is any illness or injury the pitcher will not be required to go further. However, this changes everything for pitchers that have made their careers on match-ups. He will now have to face three batters coming out of the pen. You may be thinking, what does that matter? It matters quite a bit if you follow baseball. Left-handed specialist made a career off facing one guy out of the pen. Most of the specialist excelled in their roles. To get your mind going on what a Left-Handed specialist would look like or (LOOGY), LOOGY meaning left-handed One Out Guy. Some perfect examples would be Javier Lopez, Randy Choate, Steve Kline, and Oliver Perez. These guys made millions on the back of their ability to get left-handed batters out. This trend was made popular by manager Tony La Russa. Which is why you see a couple of Saint Louis Cardinals on this list. The more important thing is does this need to be removed from the sport of baseball? Is this something that will make more people watch? Probably not, and honest you wouldn’t even notice any impact on the game length time. This is just a ruse to make more the game “faster” like the pitch clock that was proposed. The issue comes down to the fact that the MLB wants to make the game “faster” and more interesting for more people, but is removing one change in the game going to make that happen? I do not believe that this will make an impact on the game. If you were to time it takes for the manager to make the slow trot to the mound, have the subtle wave to the bullpen, the reliever to throw 8 pitches, and for the commercials to stop it would be probably all of 1-3 minutes. A single baseball game can last for an entire 3 hours and 10 minutes on average according to Baseball-Reference. So if it is true that you are changing something that typically only takes 1% of the total game that seems silly. I am a little obsessed with processes with my Business background. One of the major rules in changing processes is not changing something that isn’t broken. Also, you don’t change something that has a little impact on the overall impact that you are trying to fix. I can use an example of if you are trying to drive in snow, will you get a new battery for your car? I guess you could, but it would only help you when you are stranded on the side of the road. If you wanted to drive better in the snow, you would buy snow tires or put something heavy in your trunk to add some weight. Baseball should consider doing the same if they are going after making the game better.
To further make the rule changes worse, they are creating a rule that teams have to designate two-way players. This is a little weird rule that isn’t needed in baseball. The rule states the following “Position players who are not designated as two-way players will not be allowed to pitch in a game unless the run differential in the game is seven or more, or if the game is in extra innings.” I would feel as if this is pretty normal any way, but it gets weird with the 20 inning requirement for pitching and 20 games as a position player. Even weirder is that the rule does not apply to pitchers. This seems like an unnecessary rule. With the rise in the number of innings that position players have received on the mound, it kind of makes sense, but who doesn’t love watching a guy throw 75 on the bump? It gives us all hope that we too can become an MLB pitcher. Jokes aside, this can give teams an advantage in the upcoming year. For example, Shohei Ohtani would not be considered against the current 13 pitcher team limit. This could become a benefit to see more two-way guys, albeit a confusing way.
There are even more changes on the horizon with the automation of umpire duties, pitch clocks, changing pick offs, changing extra innings rules, and other rule changes. The question is what should be the focus of the MLB? My suggestion to this problem would be to make the game a more immersive experience for all involved. This can be achieved in a few ways. Those would be making highlights more accessible, don’t blackout games on MLB.tv, adding better commentary, cheerleaders(pep is never bad), and marketing baseball’s star. The largest of those is to stop blacking out games. It is stupid that I have to pay to not watch my team play in HD. I bought MLB.tv last year and wasn’t able to watch any Cardinals games via that. I had to go to Buffalo Wild Wings, a bar, a friend’s house, or borrow someone’s cable to watch a game I wanted to. You know the result of that, I rarely had the chance to watch Cardinal baseball. I had to catch the highlights after the games, which were also hard to come by because the MLB restricts that. If you truly want to make the game better, please let me watch it? I shouldn’t have to pay for a cable subscription to just watch my team play, that seems silly. After all, is said and done, I think the MLB needs to take a better look at what will make the game more interesting and more genuine. However, before they change anything they should ask the players, you know, the people who are in the game? They probably have some fun ideas. However, I digress, baseball is changing and the question for you, me, and the MLB is if that is a good or bad thing?
Check out our future podcasts! Jacob and I will be talking about some of these issues in upcoming podcasts. What do you not like about these changes? Let us know and we will include it in our upcoming podcast.