Everyone is talking about the baseball again. Offenses are struggling across the big leagues and Mets hitters have been plunked an astonishing 19 times in 20 games. The ball is believed to be too dead and too slick in a post-Spider Tack world, creating yet another silly, completely avoidable crisis.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal took an in-depth look at the situation, reporting MLB made two proposals related to pitchers hitting batters during collective bargaining talks earlier this year.
The first was an automatic ejection for any pitcher that hits a batter in the head or neck. The players union rejected it, which is understandable, but it’s not the worst idea in the world.
But the other one?
[T]he league also proposed a discussion of additional discipline for cumulative batters hit. More recently, league officials informally floated to some players the idea of a hit-by-pitch point system for pitchers, in addition to an automatic ejection for hitting a batter above the shoulder, sources said. The way the system would work, each hit-by-pitch would count for a certain amount of points against the pitcher depending upon pitch type and location. A slider off a hitter’s foot might be one point, a fastball in the ribs might be three. Once the pitcher passed a set threshold, he would be suspended.
No MLB idea should ever be considered too surprising. These are the people who got in a room to discuss how to grow the game worldwide and decided to send Yankees legend Nick Swisher overseas. But it is truly amazing how little the people that run baseball seem to understand baseball.
Imagine sitting down Shohei Ohtani because he harmlessly hit a few batters over a three-month period. Or having Max Scherzer or
Gerrit Cole Nestor Cortes suspended for a huge late-season start in a division race. Moreover, MLB can’t even find umpires who can call balls and strikes. Now they’re going to correctly ascertain whether a pitch hit a guy in the butt or on his lower back? That could be a two-point swing! And God forbid a guy gets hit on the hand and the pitcher argues it was actually the knob of the bat.
Rosenthal said the proposal gained little traction given it misses the point entirely — the issue is pitchers being unable to grip the ball, not batters being thrown at. Which is good news. But the fact this was even suggested is scary.