When Major League Baseball announced it was introducing pace-of-play rules for 2015 in order to speed up the game, there was bound to be backlash and opposition. From the fans, and the players. Now, with a few days to let it set in, players are starting to speak out against it. Add several Chicago Cubs to the “not in favor” list.
Now, these changes were coming regardless of what we wanted. When I wrote up the original story, I said that I didn’t mind the changes but I think to clarify that. I approve of these over the pitch-clock. Sadly, there are rules already within the rulebook that would help the pace -but they’re not enforced.
Baseball isn’t simply a matchup of physicality. It’s a chess match. It always has been. And if you are familiar with Chess, it’s not designed to be a fast-paced game. And in the same manner people will go watch a chess match between two top players, knowing it could last for hours? They’ll do the same for baseball.
"“I’m not a fan of how everything goes down,” outfielder Chris Coghlan said Saturday morning. “From our standpoint, this is the way the game has been played. Even when you start to listen to radio shows, fans don’t seem to have a major issue.” h/t Jess Rogers, ESPNChicago.com"
The batter’s box rule, which is one that has most players on edge, has been in place but hasn’t been enforced. Do some players take it too far? Of course. Nomar Garciaparra comes to mind. But if you recall, he actually did keep a foot in the box when adjusting his batting gloves. Younger players, maybe ones who haven’t developed “habits” at the Major League level wont be bothered by the changes. But what about veterans?
"“If you think of guys like Ryan Ludwick or Jay Bruce, every at-bat, taking a pitch, they’re stepping out of the box,” Anthony Rizzo said. “I’m interested in seeing guys, you know, that have been in the league for 10-plus years.”"
Even Jason Hammel has some sympathy for the batter. “Good luck enforcing that.”
Limiting the time between innings isn’t a terrible idea. The disparity between televised games and ones that aren’t can be most visible at a minor-league game. More so at the lower levels. Triple-A seems to mirror the Majors a bit more. But forcing the batter or pitcher to speed up? Look no further than new Cubs pitcher Jon Lester for the against argument there.
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"“I feel like if you do add a clock it just takes all the beauty away from the game,” he said this offseason. “I think you’re going down a path you don’t want to go down.”"
The duel between a batter and the pitcher, or with runners on base – it’s a beautiful thing. I’m a lifelong baseball fan, so I’m partial. At 35-years-old, I have a good memory of the game starting when I was around four or five. Even as a hyperactive little child, I could sit with my dad and watch an entire Cubs game on WGN.
The desire to draw new fans is in the mix, but current fans don’t find the changes necessary, and neither do the players.
"“It’s a beautiful sport,” Lester said. “There’s no time limit, there’s no shot clock. There’s no nothing. For me, I’ve always been a big believer in the fans know what they’re getting themselves into when they show up. If it’s a three-hour game it’s a three-hour game. If it’s a five-hour game it’s a five-hour game.”"
Preach on Reverend Lester. Preach on.