MLB Rule ChangesFebruary 22, 2017
Here we go again with another round of rule changes that are supposed to make the game “more appealing” to younger viewers. The MLB has proposed a few rule changes this offseason to try to modernize the game of baseball. The main reasoning for these changes is to boost interest in the sport for the younger generations. The average age for an MLB fan, as of the latest official poll in 2015, is 53 compared to the NBA’s 37 and NFL’s 47. All of these rule changes, however, will not be beneficial to the league.
One rule that the MLB has just implemented is the intentional walk rule. This rule change states that instead of the pitcher having to throw four balls outside of the zone for an intentional walk to take place, the bench just has to notify the umpire that they want to walk the batter. This was suggested in order to speed up the pace of the game. First of all, throwing the four pitches takes at most one extra minute of gameplay. Also, this rarely ever happens in a game to begin with, so it isn’t really changing the pace of the game that drastically. Another reason this shouldn’t be implemented is because on top of the two reasons I just stated, it takes away a chance for the pitcher to muff up, although this is highly unlikely. By this I mean that it takes away the chance that the pitcher accidentally throws the ball too close to the strike zone, resulting in the batter capitalizing on this mistake. An example of this taking place is Miguel Cabrera’s notorious go-ahead single off of Orioles’ pitcher Todd Williams in the tenth inning. This RBI single sparked 2 more runs, resulting in an 8-5 victory for Cabrera’s then Florida Marlins. The point I’m making here is that this rule change really has no effect on speeding up the game, and also takes away a possible crucial mistake on the pitcher’s part.
The next rule is the change in the strike zone, and I think this is a preposterous idea. This rule change proposes that the strike zone be changed from the bottom of the kneecap to above the knees. This rule change is wrong for a multitude of reasons. First of all, the MLB has made it a well known fact that they want to speed up the pace of the games. Squeezing the pitchers’ strike zone will only SLOW DOWN the games even more, so this is really just hypocritical if you think about it. Another reason this suggestion is absolutely abysmal is because this is punishing pitchers. Everyone knows that pitches low in the zone are harder to take yard or get extra base hits off of. This is why when a pitcher wants a double play they throw a pitch, usually offspeed, around the knees. More often than not, it forces a ground ball or even a strikeout. Pitchers should be REWARDED for hitting hard to hit spots rather than PUNISHED. As a pitcher who thrives on the low outside corner, there is no doubt in my mind that this would take the sport of baseball in a horrible direction.
The last rule change is the time limit on challenging a play. This rule proposes that after a play is over, the manager only has 30 seconds to challenge the play. This rule is absolutely irrelevant. The manager should just have the luxury to challenge the play up until the next pitch is thrown, just like in football when they have until the next snap. I have no idea what this rule is trying to accomplish, because it sure as hell isn’t speeding up the game. Even if this were to be implemented, it doesn’t speed up the game in any way because the pitchers still take forever on the mound, leading me to my suggested rule addition.
If there were to be one rule change that is absolutely necessary for the MLB, it’s that there needs to be a time limit for pitchers in between pitches. Recently, this has become a cancerous problem across the whole league. It seems like every pitcher is taking forever from one pitch to the next. I have no idea what the pitchers are out there doing; dilly dallying, sitting on their thumbs, I don’t know. What I do know is that this problem needs to be stopped. Also, it really makes no sense for a pitcher to take so long in between pitches. It gives the batter enough time to gather himself mentally. One of your goals as a pitcher is to throw off the batter, and giving him enough time to gather himself after every pitch doesn’t achieve that.
So there you have it. That’s my opinion on the recent rule change proposals, and my one suggestion that I believe needs to take place. The MLB is just in a really messed up place right now if they think these rule changes will speed up the game, or even contribute to the game in a positive manner.
Written by Cam Simes