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Could It Be? Baseball Considers Helpful Reforms

March 12th, 2021 · 1 Comment · Baseball

After a few decades during which Major League Baseball actively made its product less interesting, we may be seeing changes in game-thinking.

MLB is tinkering with the ball, with the goal of “deadening” it a wee bit — and presumably making it slightly harder to hit home runs.

The glut of home runs slugged the past few years has had the effect of making for a boring, less strategy-based game — unless your idea of great baseball is all about homers and strikeouts, which both are breaking records year after year.

Also, in the minor leagues, which MLB now runs from top to bottom, several potential rules changes will be tried out, and some could become the law of the land — including a ban on some forms of defensive shifts, more games governed by an electronic strike zone, a 15-second pitch clock, limiting pickoff moves and larger bases.

Several of those rules would have the effect of making the game more like it was 20-30 years ago, when the stolen base, sacrifice bunt and other forms of “small ball” were part of the game.

This is good news.

Making the ball a little less bouncy in theory will make it a bit harder to hit home runs, especially when considering, say, middle infielders who these days might hit 20-30 homers, far more than Back in the Day — when shortstops were not expected to put a lot of baseballs in the seats.

I’m all for a squishier baseball, mainly because it could make players less interested in upper-cutting every swing, looking for a homer — because they would not be able to power the harder, bouncier ball.

Which ought to reduce homers and lead to a re-examination of how the game was played not all that long ago. When we didn’t sit around waiting for the Big Kid to put the ball in the bleachers.

The tests at the minor league level mostly seem to be about helping teams score — without the need of a home run.

One would be a rule calling for four infielders to be on the infield skin, two on each side of the second-base bag, as a pitch is thrown. That is, outlawing the defensive shifts that too many batters to date do not do well handling — like a bunt toward third base. “These restrictions on defensive positioning are intended to increase the batting average on balls in play,” MLB said.

Balls in play? We like those, too.

Another rule to be tested in the minors calls for pitchers to stop dawdling, limiting them to 15 second between pitches, which perhaps would discombobulate some finicky pitchers.

Like to see stolen bases? Well, of course we do, and another rule to be tested would limit pitchers to two throws over to first base. Combine that with the suggestions of using bases three-inches longer, and we have more runners beating out bang-bang plays, especially at first base.

So, yeah, there seems to be some sound thinking in the MLB offices. Old fans could have told them what needed fixing, and now MLB seems to be listening.


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Doug // Mar 15, 2021 at 10:05 AM

    I’m for all of these ASAP in MLB. Baseball has become a snore fest with over emphasis on the home run. I’m with those who believe, as Hank Aaron supposedly said, the triple is the most exciting play in baseball

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