Major League Baseball’s competition committee at owners meetings this week agreed to two new changes to baseball as we know it.
We could be seeing some rule changes in the game of baseball, writes Jayson Stark of ESPN. The competition committee agreed to some minor changes to the strike zone, and intentional walks. What you’ll see is both changes are desired to address MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s concerns over pace of play. Length of games has again increased so far in 2016.
A large theme of increasing the pace of play is that putting more balls in play will translate to quicker games. Less walks, less strikeouts, and more hits result in quicker games. By making pitchers get the ball up a little bit, I bet we will see an increase in balls put in play. I’m not sure if this also means the zone will be brought to the belt. Umpires in today’s game are much more likely to give some leeway below the knee before they give it at the belt.
2) Eliminating the need to throw 4 balls to execute an intentional walk.
As the traditional intentional walk goes, a pitcher is required to throw 4 balls to the plate. Under the new proposition, the pitcher/catcher will notify the umpire that they’d like to put the runner on first base.
I have a generally open mind when it comes to changes to the game of baseball. It’s really unfair to use the “don’t change the game it’s fine the way it is” argument. People change, players change, times change, and the game should change with it. Let me remind you what the game would look like had MLB been resistant to change since the beginning of the sport…just picture it. What I don’t like are changes to game play that result in an altering of statistics. People’s attention spans are shortening, and I think quickening the pace of play would be good for the game. Before you get your panties in a bunch, realize that there are ways to quicken the game without changing rules or much in terms of game play.
The change of the strike zone makes me a little uneasy or a couple reasons. First off, that will take some getting used to starting with the umpires. But with the margin of error of home plate umpires, will a theoretical raising of the strike zone by two inches actually make a difference? Not as long as we have human umpires, I don’t believe it will…
Eliminating 4 balls thrown to conclude an intentional walk is perfect in my opinion. These are the areas of the game we can eliminate to shorten the game. Don’t give me talk about how sometimes pitchers overthrow the catcher and it changes the game. Do you realize how often that happens? A statistically insignificant number, trust me. You won’t miss it.
These changes agreed upon by the competition committee could go into effect as soon as next season, but the proposed changes still need agreement from the playing rules committee, although they don’t need agreement from the MLB Players’ Union.