I don’t envy the duty that MLB has. I additionally don’t belief that anybody in command of it has any sense of the problem, however that’s one other subject for an additional time. Baseball’s attraction will all the time be rooted in its historical past and easily the period of time it has been a part of American tradition. While professional soccer could have been round for a century, it’s actually solely been a part of the consciousness for 50-60 years. The NBA…perhaps solely 40. Fifty at most. But baseball has been twice that. There fairly merely isn’t a contemporary American period with out baseball.
So for MLB to disregard that will be foolish. It’s what makes it distinctive. In that sense, baseball could by no means be “cool,” irrespective of how arduous it tries. I don’t suppose it must be to stay well-liked, however threading the needle of not being cool and but remaining well-liked is hard. Certainly past me.
But there’s a distinction between embracing your historical past and longevity and making an attempt to fistfuck your recreation again into wanting like its historical past. That’s placing it closely, an excessive amount of so, however that’s what it looks like MLB’s guidelines modifications are supposed to do as an alternative of addressing the issues for the sport.
That doesn’t imply a few of these modifications gained’t be welcomed or can’t enhance the sport. The greater bases don’t seemingly have any downsides and will assist, bettering the probabilities of stolen bases or taking an additional base on successful, or stopping harm. No worries there.
The pitch clock can have advantages, too. Pitchers and hitters taking 40 seconds to mainly stand there or alter batting gloves doesn’t actually serve anybody, besides the quantity of motion anybody operating for a beer or a piss would possibly miss. Cutting that in additional than half will nearly actually be a profit to followers. And it might need the aspect impact of reducing velocity and spin, that are the actual issues for baseball’s motion deficiency.
Still, it follows as one more offensive in Rob Manfred’s struggle on the size of the sport, which has seemingly been his solely quest apart from monetizing each facet and ensuring everybody thinks of him as “Asshole Smurf.” The rule of relievers having to face three hitters besides in the event that they finish an inning is rendered merely for aesthetics due to the second a part of that rule. If it have been actually about altering technique or gamers’ expertise, they’d all the time should face three batters it doesn’t matter what, or they’d all the time have to finish an inning. It was nearly eradicating pitching modifications mid-inning to hurry video games up.
Which is okay, as a result of baseball video games are most likely too lengthy (three-plus hours). But what actually makes video games lengthy, particularly within the playoffs? The advert breaks between innings. There’s no logical cause that between innings breaks couldn’t be accomplished in 90 seconds or much less if we so wished, besides there’s advert house there that may be offered.
There’s been this urge to get video games again to lengths of the 70s or 80s, however that’s not coming again as a result of A) of stated advert breaks and B) the way in which at-bats are constructed now. Even with a pitch clock, it’s unlikely most ABs are going to be only one or two or three pitches once more (although maybe a drop in velocity in spin may make that occur). Strikeouts could drop, however they’ll by no means get to these ranges once more.
The altering of shifts (it’s not likely a ban as a result of groups will nonetheless have a shortstop or second baseman proper up towards the bottom as an alternative of on the opposite aspect of it) is nearly actually about aesthetics on the high. There isn’t much evidence that limiting shifts really causes extra hits and definitely gained’t have an effect on the variety of balls in play. And even when it did, it might solely reward the kind of method that obtained us into this motion vacuum the sport finds itself in at present, i.e. the carry and pull leanings of most hitters that result in extra Ks and walks.
But what appears to gall those that run the sport, at the very least to the purpose that they modified the foundations, is that the pure response to the a part of the sport they’ve watched for 30, 40, or 50 years not applies. It’s seeing a left-handed hitter smack a line drive to the proper aspect of the sector that clearly goes over the second baseman’s head. Or the sharp grounder up the center. In our minds, as quickly as we see that contact, our mind reacts “hit!” Or, it did, and with that the elation of seeing your staff succeed or the deflation of your opponent doing so.
Except it doesn’t finish that approach on a regular basis anymore. Sometimes, there’s somebody standing there to catch/area that ball that for therefore lengthy we simply knew meant “base hit.” And probably “run” and “win.” Even now, you’ll be able to really feel the gears cease or the wires spark as one thing in our pure baseball-watching instincts nonetheless can’t fairly compute. Or perhaps you’ve gotten used to it, and you know the way it ends now and your viewing expertise has adjusted. That took time, and it looks like the time that those that run the sport don’t need to take or don’t suppose any fan is able to.
And that’s what this restriction or limiting of shifts is supposed to deal with. To make issues that appeared like successful for therefore lengthy appear to be successful once more, to not really produce extra of them. But any sport’s aesthetics, its taking part in aesthetics, change over time. A slapshot from above the circle in hockey used to imply a main scoring probability. Now you would possibly see a shooter beat a goalie clear with no display screen from greater than 40 ft a handful of occasions per season. A 3-pointer on the break in basketball used to imply operating circuits subsequent observe till you puked. Not a lot anymore. That’s only a pure evolution, and thru technique and enchancment within the athleticism of the particular athletes.
Baseball nonetheless has a lot that harkens again to its historical past and roots. The parks nonetheless look distinctive to every other sport. The uniforms are nonetheless an homage, and hell, the Tigers, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Pirates, and Reds mainly nonetheless put on residence uniforms that appear to be they all the time have. The basic play nonetheless seems to be the identical, it’s simply the nuances inside.
It’s a troublesome stability to know what within the recreation will all the time look the identical and what’s by no means going again. But baseball won’t ever get the entire thing again to a earlier time, nor ought to it. The gamers are too good and people operating these gamers know an excessive amount of. Fans will all the time alter, and nobody’s turned off baseball as a result of a grounder up the center isn’t all the time successful now. And fuck, the followers who can’t alter to that truth are going to be lifeless quickly sufficient (I’m tryin’!). In the macro view, baseball will all the time type of appear to be it all the time has. The micro can’t return.