This past week, the MLB changed the intentional walks rule and how they’re addressed. Instead of having to throw four balls to pitch around a hitter, a manager will now simply signal to the umpire, and the batter will be able take his base without the pitcher having to make one pitch.
What are the MLB and, more importantly, Commissioner Rob Manfred thinking? I don’t get this whole new fascination of trying to completely change the game of baseball. It’s perfect how it is. But the MLB is all about trying to improve their marketing and boost their audience, which apparently only works if they can speed up the game.
Completely getting rid of the intentional walk is going to make an iota of difference in the amount of time these games take. Intentional walks happen so rarely that those four fewer pitches aren’t going to draw in a huge crowd that the MLB didn’t have before.
Not only that, but taking the ball out of the pitcher’s hand in that situation leaves no chance for anything odd or exciting to happen. We’ve seen Miguel Cabrera get hits off of intentional walks and wild pitches that have led to runs being scored. It’s more exciting to see which pitchers completely fall apart when asked to throw four pitches 10 feet off the plate.
Also, please stop trying to change the game of baseball. It’s scary to think this rule might be just the beginning of the adjustments Commissioner Manfred has in mind. He’s already discussed changing the strike zone, limiting mound visits and pitching changes and automatically having a runner on second in extra innings.
Limiting the amount of pitching changes might be the worst idea I’ve heard in my life. Manfred and his comrades are trying to take away what makes baseball the greatest game in the world. The strategy of the game and how much managing is needed to win a game is so undervalued. Why is the MLB trying to change the way the game has been played for decades?
Enough is enough. If people think the game of baseball is too slow, then let them watch football (which I honestly think can sometimes be slower than baseball). The game of baseball requires a certain patience and understanding in order to appreciate the beauty of the game.
Sure, there is strategy and game planning in basketball, football, hockey and any other sport, but none of it compares to the situational and in game complexity that baseball possesses. Managers have to worry about pitching matchups, where to pitch a certain player, when to pinch-hit for certain hitters, managing tired pitchers and more.
If the MLB is really worried about the amount of time these games are taking, there are changes that can be made to accommodate that. Limit the time between innings, have instant replay ready so the review doesn’t take more than 30 seconds or even enforce the rule keeping batters in the batter’s box.
Stop messing with the game of baseball, Manfred. Your viewers will appreciate it a whole lot more if you keep the product on the field the way it has always been.