MiLB is now a testing ground for everything baseball related. This ranges from players to umpires. Not to mention, future big-league executives. In recent seasons Minor League Baseball has become test subjects for rules that the major leagues might employ in the future. Pace of Play is a big debate in baseball. The addition of a pitch clock in MiLB and Spring Training games is the root of the changes so far. It is yet to appear in the Big Leagues due to player backlash. Today, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced some new rules that will be in effect this upcoming season.
Manfred announced the following rules: placing a runner on second base to begin extra innings, limit of six mound visits, and a clock for between innings and pitching changes. The last rule was also in effect last season. These rules stir the pot between players, fans, and front office executives. Many “pure” baseball fans hate seeing our game changed. Many of the players hate rules limiting their “rituals” and processes they go through. David Ortiz’s comments on rule changes a couple of seasons ago reiterate this.
Many high up executives and some “fans” think games are too long. Michael Felger wants every possible second saved when watching a game.
Why the Change?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While many news outlets and baseball haters argue that Major League Baseball is struggling to make money, this is just not true. Major League Baseball is a $9.5 Billion Industry. Nearly three times what the National Hockey League is at $3.7 Billion. Yet so many, like Commissioner Manfred, find the need for change. While games are certainly long, why is this such a terrible thing? If a family is going to a 1:05 Red Sox afternoon game, they plan a day out of it. They plan on the game ending sometime around 4:30.
Yet so many team executives find the need for drastic change to America’s Pastime. So many ideas are flying around the Major League Baseball offices looking to shave every conceivable second off game time. Bullpen carts, pitch clocks, limiting mound visits, not being allowed to leave the batter’s box are all considered “time savers”. But how much time do they save? What, 10-15 minutes off the game? Thank goodness, I really need those 15 minutes off the game or else it is just unwatchable. Why ruin a beloved sport for the sake of 15 minutes? It just does not make any sense.
The rule of adding a runner to second base at the start of extra innings is unbelievably stupid. How can you lose a game because of a runner you did not put on base? How will this affect a pitcher’s earned run average? There are so many unanswered questions regarding this rule. The rule somewhat makes sense in the minor leagues where winning is not the most important thing rather the experience the players are getting. However, in Major League Baseball the rule should never be allowed. Extra innings are magical in baseball. Every swing, pitch, catch, play is amplified. Why ruin that? Yes, there are some games that go 19 innings, but is that really such an epidemic in baseball? That will, at most, happen twice a season. Many fans who stick it out are proud of such an accomplish meant.
With all these changes it seems that no game will ever come close to the 33 inning contest between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. Today, that game is celebrated as one of the biggest events in Baseball history, many fans who were there, wear it as a badge of honor. I wish I were one of the lucky few who went.
Follow Matt McGurn on Twitter: @MickGurn
Cover image courtesy of USA Today.