Rob Manfred Considering Radical Changes To The Game

Rob Manfred sat down with USA Today recently to discuss the state of MLB and to float a few major changes he is considering.

Major League Baseball, alarmed by the game’s lack of action this season is considering making the most radical changes to the game in more than a century.

First off, what the fuck do you mean lack of action?  Offense is through the roof, home runs are being hit at a record pace, and pitcher’s ERA continue to rise.  Not to mention that pitchers are continuing to throw harder and harder, and strikeouts are rising as batters are swinging for the fences at an alarming rate.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said that baseball is contemplating everything from altering the strike zone to limiting the number of pitching changes in a game, to curtailing the number of shifts, to even installing 20-second time clocks for pitchers.

These are a lot of massive changes.  We have already heard that the strike zone will be shrinking next year, a change that will further hamper pitchers, especially pitchers who specialize in getting batters to hit the ball on the ground.  Additionally MLB has been playing around with shot clocks, err I mean pitch clocks in the minor leagues.  I’m sure the Red Sox and Yankees, two teams notorious for taking a ridiculous amount of time on both sides of the ball will be thrilled for those changes.

Additionally, while I’m not a fan of managers trotting out a new pitcher every other batter, I don’t see how you could possibly enforce a limited number of pitchers allowed to enter a game.  What happens when you are down 10-1 and pitcher after pitcher is getting lit up?  Are you saying that managers will be forced to keep a guy in who is getting rocked because you used up your allotted number of pitchers too early?  I’m sure the MLBPA will love that when some pitcher sees his era triple in a contract year, or someone blows their arm out requiring their second Tommy John surgery because MLB rules prevented him from leaving in a timely manner.  Or maybe you think it’s good to force a pitcher to throw X number of pitches before he’s allowed to leave.  That will sure speed the game up.

The last change mentioned is possibly the most interesting and will likely be the most hotly debated.  Limiting the number of shifts.  How exactly do you propose to do this?  What do you define as a shift?  Does it require the short stop and second baseman to be on a specific side of the field?  What about moving in for a bunt?  What about shifting the outfield for a left handed hitter?  What about the double play, or playing no doubles defense?  Why the fuck can’t a guy like Chris Davis or Mark Teixeira just learn to hit the ball to the left side of the field?  Part of the beauty of the game is it’s long, rich, history.  Trends come and go.  Defenses make adjustments, and offenses then adjust to those adjustments, and back and forth.  Batters will learn in time to hit the ball to the opposite side to counter the shift.  And defenses will stop shifting.  Why do we need a stupid rule to force this?

Certainly, the pitching numbers are dizzying. There were average of 27 pitchers employed by clubs last season, compared to just 17 in 1988. There is now an average of 7.77 pitchers used in nine-inning games, throwing 288.7 pitches, with a record 3.87 per plate-appearance.

True, but aren’t we also a lot more cautious with our pitchers than ever before?  Pitches are counted, and limits are applied.  Not just to starters but to relievers.  Players are playing more games than before and with more money invested, more care and caution is taken.  By limiting the number of pitchers allowed to enter the game, you are actually increasing the risk of injury.  How is that good for the game?

If we’re going to see any instant change, Manfred acknowledged, it will be altering the strike zone. Shrinking the strike zone is the easiest solution to enhancing the offense, without altering the height of the mound.

And that’s really the crux of the conversation.  The thing Manfred really cares about.  More runs to keep the new generation of attention deficit kids from changing the channel to the latest YouTube video.



7 thoughts on “Rob Manfred Considering Radical Changes To The Game

  1. This is a thing that bugs the living crap out of me.

    Rob Manfred is baseball’s Roger Goddell, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. If I want to watch football, I will frickin watch football. But I want to watch baseball. Other people want to watch baseball.

    Baseball has one of the longest schedules in sports. Of course our ratings are lower. We’re at heart a regional sport. Football only has sixteen games, all played mostly in one day in a week. Why compare apples to oranges?

    Manfred is concerned about keeping kids occupied. That’s cool, I get it. But to assume kids aren’t interested in baseball as it currently is is ludicrous. My niece, 13 years old, is obsessed with baseball. Has been since she was seven. She loves the game as it is.

    You wanna make kids interested? Make the non nosebleed seats affordable for families. Let the young stars be fun and brash and bold, just like NBA players. Don’t crack down on gifs and vines and memes online; it’s the language of young people.

    And for God’s sake, stop stop STOP thinking that kids are only here for home runs. You know how I fell in love with baseball? I watched Bret Saberhagen murder the Cardinals in the World Series. Lights out pitching. I mean, watching Ozzie Smith do backflips was super cool, but it was the pitching that did it. Not everyone is here for mashed taters. They are great, but it’s not the only thing. My niece, for example, is in love with defensive play. She likes flashy gloves. No amount of home runs will change that.

    In short, Manfred can kiss my entire ass.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Meh. I think Manfred is just antsy to leave his fingerprints on the game some way, any way.

    He could start by scrapping Bud Light’s idiotic Allstar Game idea and let the best team with the best record have home field advantage in the World Series. The current situation is caga del toro.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Regarding shifts, that place we used to hang out talked about this yesterday, and they posted numbers showing that BABIP (the only situations that could possibly be impacted by a shift) has been between .295 and .300 every year since 2009, despite shift usage increasing significantly during that time.

    As Bill Baer called it in his article, Manfred’s trying to address a problem that doesn’t exist.

    Liked by 2 people

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