MLB Rule Changes

Recently, MLB discussions have centered on proposed rule changes. At least one looks like it will be implemented for the coming year. Baseball is steeped in tradition unlike any of the other major sports leagues. Although baseball still seems to be doing well financially, there continue to be concerns about its longevity among younger fans. The game is now seen as an older generation past time. At the heart of the criticism for why fandom is waning revolves around pacing and tradition that don't resonate with today's younger fans.  At the beginning of last season, rising star Bryce Harper was critical of baseballs outdated traditions claiming the game isn't as fun as it could be. In particular, a main point for Harper involved the unwritten rule of not showing emotion when something positive happens at the plate. Bat flips and watching a homerun ball used to get you an automatic buzz cut on your next at bat. Harper feels the game needs an infusion of fun and emotion to bolster its popularity.

So does the game need to change to be relative in today's society?

This year, there have been a few proposed rule changes. We'll highlight a few, and I'll give my own opinions.

1. Man on 2nd Base to start extra innings
     This will apparently be taking place at the World Baseball Classic and some minor leagues. With this proposed change, extra innings would begin with a man on 2B for each team. It's meant to make run production easier and end an extra innings game sooner. This is one where the purist in me screams no way! It is reminiscent of college football starting at the 25 for overtime. If a team is going to win, they should produce all the facets needed to win, from getting on base to moving runners to knocking in runners. Games should be won organically without outside help.

2. Increasing the strike zone up to above the knee
     This change would theoretically mean more action as the batter friendly strike zone would mean more hits, more runs, and more game action. I'm on the fence with this change. I've always been a proponent of  the "pitch strikes and see what the hitter's got" mentality. Yet this favors hitters considerably and would negatively impact lots of good pitchers that make their living on the edges. I'm not sure introducing more action would speed the game up, so it might not jibe exactly with that initiative. I like a good pitching match, but I like slugfests too. Like I said, on the fence.

3. Intentional Walk signaled from the dugout
     The dugout signal for intentional walk looks like it will make its debut this year. I don't have a problem with this change. Not because it will speed up the game, intentional walks are still pretty rare. I've just always thought it's dumb to throw 4 meaningless lobs when it's clear you're putting the guy on base. Purists have asked if not running the bases for homers would be next. To me that's a reward for the hitter to celebrate. I don't believe I've ever seen a passed ball or hit during an intentional walk lob. Plus, why put any undue strain on the pitcher. This rule I like.

Although baseball treasures its roots and history, some things are bound to change with the times. There were plenty of replay skeptics, but baseball has done a good job not making it intrusive. I'm not in favor of changes that would alter stats or the ability to compare players like shortening innings per game or games per season. Please comment on any changes you would implement.


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