I must have perfect timing. Last week I discussed how baseball wanted to start changing some of the game and I focused on the pace of play rules that were up for inclusion into the game. A few days later both the MLB and the MLB Players Union agreed to put the rules into action starting in spring training, and having them fully enforced in May.
After taking some time to read how they will be implemented, I’m okay with them. The pace of play rules that they brought up will not directly affect the pure fundamentals of the game and might even encourage other people to take in a game when they otherwise wouldn’t. They didn’t take the extreme measure of adding the pitch clock into games, but with it still being used in the Arizona Fall League, I feel like it’s only a matter of time before it gets rolled out in ballparks across America.
So getting that out of the way, let's dive into the rules that I really have a problem with. Rules that if Commissioner Rob Manfred has his way, would be put into effect sooner rather than later. These rules are all about improving offensive totals and stats (home runs, RBI’s, batting average). Just like the other three major sports, new rules seem to be introduced to increase scoring every year.
While this is all well and good, no one takes a hard look on how it can actually affect the game. For example, the rules that the NFL has passed have basically regulated the quarterback to a flag football game. It’s to the point where if you even blow on him you’ll get a 15 yard penalty and a $15,000 fine.
That’s another topic for a different time though. Let’s take a look at what Manfred wants for baseball. First and foremost he wants to eliminate defensive shifts. No. Just no. No one should be able to dictate where players can or cannot set up in the field, especially if you’re trying to improve offense.
Baseball is leaning towards advanced statistics more and more every year, and the defensive shift philosophy is just a part of that. If players who have shifts played on them on a regular basis have a problem with it, then just learn how to bunt. Problem solved.
Next up are another three dumb rule proposals, lowering the mound, wrapping the ball tighter (which allows the ball to be hit farther), and bring in outfield walls at all ballparks in the league. If this doesn’t scream “score more runs” than nothing else will.
What has spurred the ideas of rules like this? It’s the fact that less runs are being scored, batting averages have gotten lower, and so have home run totals. While I love home runs as much as the next guy, I also love the suspense and intensity of pitchers duels, knowing that the next ball pitched could change the outcome of the game.
All it takes is a simple history lesson though to know what you need to do to create offense: you do nothing. Baseball has been a game of ebb and flow. Different eras have brought dominance from either the pitcher’s side or the batter’s side. There have been times where the league ERA has been historically low, and other times where it has ballooned to a number that few have ever seen.
You do not need drastic rule changes to correct this. Just wait a few years. Baseball has this supernatural ability to even itself out. I said last week that the rules of the sport have remained virtually unchanged for the past 150 years. There is no need to start changing them now.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Colin Terrill at firstname.lastname@example.org.