With drastic rule changes being implemented in Minor League Baseball, the game is in a dangerous spot.
Minor League Baseball has announced new rule changes to address the never-ending quest to improve pace of play. These rules include some minor alterations, such as reduced mound visits and a fairly aggressive pitch clock, as well as one pretty major change to the game. When a game goes into extra innings, a runner will start on second base.
Nope. Don’t like this at all. Not a fan. Unsubscribe. About a month ago I wrote about my thoughts on rule changes in the game of baseball and now I’m starting to get the feeling that baseball executives aren’t reading my stuff.
In my opinion, the game doesn’t need any of these rule changes. But you know what? I understand why the league is experimenting with them. I understand that the league wants to attract a younger crowd that thinks the game moves too slowly. And to that effect, I’m ok with minor changes that keep the game moving. My biggest concern has always been that implementing these small rule changes like pitch clocks and reduced mound visits would open a pandora’s box of rule change possibilities that would drastically affect the game.
Well, welcome to Pandora’s box. A change of this caliber to America’s pastime is a baseball fan’s worst nightmare.
To be fair, this rule only applies to the minor leagues right now. It’s extremely unlikely that we’ll ever see it applied in Major League Baseball. Even Rob Manfred has to know the kind of outrage that would ensue if the tenth inning of a Major League Baseball game started with a runner on second.
But that isn’t the point. The point is that a line has been crossed. Speeding up the game has now eclipsed playing the game the way it’s meant to be played. It doesn’t matter if it will never affect the big league rules. It matters that the way the game is played at any level has been changed. It matters that the higher ups in baseball changed the game to address issues that many fans don’t believe even need to be addressed.
Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that Minor League Baseball is implementing a 15-second pitch clock with empty bases and a 20-second pitch clock with runners on. While it may be hidden by strong opposition to the extra innings rule, it’s nearly as bad for the game. Rushing players in their preparation and approach during an at-bat takes away from the quality of the at-bat and thus, takes away from the game. Changing the way players play the game to save a few minutes at most is unnecessary.
These changes set a very dangerous precedent. They establish that baseball executives are willing to change the game itself just to increase viewership. If that’s the priority of the people in charge of running the game, we as baseball fans are in trouble.