Rob Manfred and MLB announced several new rules changes and Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, among others, aren’t pleased. Not that every change is bad, but it is indicative that even when MLB gets it right, it gets it wrong.
I’ve been calling out MLB and Rob Manfred since last June about the crisis they are presiding over and exacerbating with bizarre rule change ideas. Now, the announcement of a series of rules changes make some modest improvements but at the same time aggravate already simmering issues with the Chicago Cubs and the rest of the league.
MLB and MLBPA to discuss CBA issues
Two off-seasons of glacially slow free agent signings are among the issues that have made the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) a point of contention for players. This is perhaps the best news of all, assuming both parties are talking in good faith.
The talks acknowledge that the heat building toward a player stoppage or strike is being taken seriously by MLB. It also acknowledges that MLB, and hopefully the owners, recognize how much a player revolt would damage the game.
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- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
- Cubs: P.J. Higgins deserves to be in the lineup on a daily basis
The CBA expires in December 2021 and this unprecedented step of beginning talks this early is a good sign.
New rules please some, rankle others
As part of the agreement to begin talks, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to several rules changes.
For 2019, commercial breaks will be shortened. It’s about time. I get that commercials are money for the owners and MLB, but it’s time rein it in when players are standing around on the field waiting for the commercials to end. MLB can further limit between-inning commercial breaks in 2020.
Mound visits will be reduced from six to five. Good. I’ve never understood why pitchers get in-game therapy. If an infielder makes an error, the other players don’t gather around to soothe his damaged ego. If a batter whiffs at a bad pitch the hitting coach doesn’t stroll to the batter’s box to give a pep talk.
The change eliminating the non-waiver trade deadline was covered extensively by my colleague Nick Blazek on Thursday.
In 2020 the roster will expand to 26 players but the September call up roster will drop from 40 to 28 players. I’m not sure what issue they are addressing with that last part, but I like the overall idea of expanding the roster.
MLB agreed not to implement a pitch clock through the 2021 season. There’s little evidence that a pitch clock speeds up games and I wouldn’t want a pitcher hurrying to throw 95-plus mph anyway.
But it’s all downhill from there. A collection of mind number proposals will be looked at including a joint management-union committee to look at mound height and moving the mound further from home plate. This last idea needs to be exorcized like an evil demon for reasons I explained in an earlier article.
Teams will also experiment with starting a runner at second base in the 10th inning, reducing baseball to something approaching softball. If extra innings are a problem, merely limit the number of extra innings. Baseball needs to love the tie result.
All pitchers will have to face at least three batters or end a half-inning unless injured. Ok, I understand the frustration of a guy coming in, throwing one pitch to one batter for an out or hit, and then getting pulled. But three batters is one-third of the line-up. A two batter minimum would accomplish much the same thing yet not constrict in game management as severely.
Finally, no team could pitch a position player through the ninth inning unless the team is winning or losing by six or more runs. Darn, I loved watching Anthony Rizzo pitch.
So it’s a mixed bag of ideas, but the most significant is that MLB and the MLBPA are talking about economic issues. If we don’t avert a strike, then none of these other ideas really matter.