The Chicago Cubs and the other 29 MLB teams are headed to Spring Training. So it must be time for MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to roll out another series of mind-numbing pace of play and other rule changes.
Last year I wrote that Manfred was engineering a train wreck, one that would culminate in a players strike if things continued as they are going. It seems that the train is still barrelling down that track. So buckle up Chicago Cubs fans, it’s another in the series of terrible ideas.
Three batter rule for relief pitchers
This idea that should get someone fired. At least they figured out that the real pace of play killer is serial pitching changes late in games. I’ve long advocated for this issue to be addressed. But interfering with a fundamental aspect of in-game play is the wrong approach. The better solution is to address the fact that most teams today carry an entire starting line up in their bullpens. And they pitch in a lot of games. If you want fewer pitching changes, then limit the number of relievers available to every team.
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Another idea that needs to be relegated to the dust bin is the pitch clock. I would think the last thing we want is to force a pitcher to throw a 95-plus mph four-seamer before he’s ready. Batters are already being chastised for stepping out of the box after every pitch That rule needs to be more vigorously enforced.
Extra inning softball rule
And the worst idea of all is allowing a runner at second base in extra innings. With all due respect to women’s softball players, and my daughters played softball and were quite good, too, just say NO. This is baseball. What next, fluorescent yellow baseballs? The solution here is to end games after eleven innings. Baseball and its fans need to love the tie game result.
I like the idea of limiting mound visits. For reasons no one can rationalize, a pitcher gets in-game psychotherapy. A batter who swings at a bad pitch doesn’t have the hitting coach come out to salve his bruised ego. A fielder who makes an error doesn’t have the team gather around him to boost his morale. Why on earth are players and coaches allowed to trek to and from the mound?
The 26 player roster
The move to a twenty-six man roster is a good move, except that bullpens will just get larger. How do we know this will happen? Because the new rule would include a twelve pitcher minimum.
The Scott Boras rule
Here’s another idea that should get someone fired – penalizing teams draft choices for tanking. First, can anyone define tanking? Is it if a team’s roster payroll declines, which might be a real measure? No, it’s if teams lose 90 games in consecutive seasons. Really? Eighty-nine losses are competing; ninety losses is tanking? A better way to look at this is tearing down/rebuilding. That process has led to the two most successful MLB franchises today, the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros. Jeez, I wish the Wrigleys had torn down and rebuilt the Cubs just once in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s…
Universal designated hitter
The only thing that should universally be done with this fail of an idea is that the American League should give it up. The argument made for the DH in the late sixties and early seventies was that more runs would be scored and thus make the game more exciting. It did nothing of the sort. The run differential between the AL and NL is so statistically insignificant no one even uses this as a rationale for the DH anymore. Oh, you hear all kinds of other nonsense. Such as it will allow older players who can hit but not field to extend their careers. You mean players who, um, can’t play baseball anymore? Like Steve Dahl killed disco — it’s time to kill the DH.
Manfred and his minions have been getting it wrong for years. He’s the worst Commissioner since Peter Ueberroth, and if they don’t stop this nonsense quick, we’re headed for a real game killer –a strike.