Baseball has reached a crossroads. Once more.
The coronavirus pandemic compelled a 60-game season, which compelled main rule modifications, which compelled followers to take a tough take a look at our Nationwide Pastime.
I’m one thing of a baseball traditionalist, and a whole romantic, tending to have a look at the sport by way of the golden tones of the film “The Pure.” So it’s smart for me to shake myself out of my nostalgic haze and take a tough take a look at the state of the sport — and likewise remind myself that the sport has by no means been static.
Evening video games, wild-card playoff groups, free company, the designated hitter, protecting netting, batting helmets, breaking the colour barrier. The listing of modifications goes on and on.
That mentioned, let me weigh in on a number of the modifications we’ve seen which may keep put.
Expanded playoffs: The variety of groups qualifying for the playoffs expanded from 10 to 16 this 12 months. Even earlier than the pandemic, commissioner Rob Manfred advocated for a future growth to 14 playoff groups.
“I like the thought of, and I’m selecting my phrases fastidiously right here, an expanded playoff format,” Manfred advised The Associated Press final week. “I don’t suppose we might do 16 like we did this 12 months. I believe we do should be cognizant of creating positive that we protect the significance of our common season. However I believe one thing past the 10 that we had been at can be a superb change.”
I agree. Growing the variety of postseason groups provides pleasure and curiosity to the lengthy season. Nonetheless, groups that show themselves to be superior over the course of 162 video games ought to be rewarded for his or her sustained excellence.
I like this concept from New York Post columnist Joel Sherman, who proposes a 14-team postseason: “Give the workforce with the perfect report in every league a bye to not play in a best-of-three first spherical. Which means groups that may get that perk to keep away from the two-of-three cube roll will play arduous to the top of the common season.”
Three-batter minimal: The transfer was made to cut back the variety of aid pitchers used and velocity up the sport. It hasn’t labored and I believe it messes with managers’ technique. Common sport time reached a brand new excessive (or is it low?) this season for nine-inning video games: Three hours, 7 minutes.
I’m not a fan of super-agent Scott Boras, however he’s proper about this subject.
“Relievers are dealing with hitters their managers and coaches don’t need them to face,” Boras told Forbes. “Guess what they’re telling them to do? They’re telling them to throw seven or eight pitches as an alternative of two or three. Attempt to pitch round them. Now all of the sudden — take a look at the prolonged at-bats. It takes extra time once they’re doing this than it does to alter the pitcher. I don’t suppose it really works.”
“California tie-breaker:” The thought of beginning additional innings with a runner at second base appeared contrived and hokey to me, however I grew to love it. It led to instantaneous motion and strain and there weren’t practically as many sacrifice bunts as many predicted. Marathon video games usually are not as romantic or thrilling as we’ve made them out to be.
That mentioned, playoff video games shouldn’t embrace the brand new rule. If Recreation 7 goes 15 innings, all the higher.
Common designated hitter: I was adamantly against the Nationwide League adopting the DH. Now I’m beginning to waver. I believe the gamers need it and so do many of the followers. However I nonetheless haven’t made up my thoughts. I’ll let you realize after I do.