Thursday, February 23, 2017


Bring it on!

Photo: AP
That's essentially what Tyler Clippard and other representatives from the Players Association are saying to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. As MLB searches for new ways to speed up the game, some players are making it clear that they won't be forced to follow any rules....period! This could be the start of a very LONG cat fight.

Photo: Getty Images
It all started on Tuesday when news of a small but buzz worthy change was announced for this season: Intentional walks will now be communication to hitters with a signal from the opposing dugout instead of having the pitcher throw four obvious balls. OK, whatever. Considering that only 932 intentional walks occurred last season in 2,428 games for 2016 I fail to see how this makes the game faster. In fact, according to MLB statistics it doesn't but we will just let Manfred have his fun with that one.

Where Manfred has more resistance is the proposal for a "pitch clock" and Clippard isn't on board with that. "If there's a pitch clock and you take more than 20 seconds, what, they're going to call a ball? Fans don't want to come to a game and see that. You going to stand out there for a minute and a half and walk a guy without throwing a pitch? How can that be good for the game?"

And I agree with him. A hot hitting team helps sell tickets, hot dogs and beer for the happy fans in the seats. Who wants to go to a game and watch a guy walk the bases? We want to see the home runs and situational hitting! Baseball is about the strategy and exciting plays, not the casual strolls to first base.

(Sept. 23, 2016 - Source: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images North America)
So Clippard's response is rebellion."If enough players are against the ruling, we would be more inclined to just ignore it. You would see a lot of weird stuff happening" read more HERE. That may not work well and help get the point across but you have to admire his passion for his sport. There is always room for improvement but maybe he should consult with other players or managers instead of interfering with the strategy or integrity of the game. 

I think Joe Girardi has a good idea to consider HERE. If Manfred really wants to speed up games investing in a communication system is a good start. It would be so easy to install earpieces and microphones on players rather than making multiple trips to the mound by the manager or catcher and would cut down on the number of times a hitter steps out of the batters box for the latest signs. Girardi is right, signs take time. Save the long strategic trips! That has more impact then a dumb new intentional walk rule.

There is always room for improvement and a new idea never hurts. It looks like Manfred may be getting some of his ideas that were implemented during the 2014 Arizona Fall League and 2015 Double-A and Triple-A seasons. Data HERE shows that there were minimal improvements with the speed of the game but is saving 10-15 minutes worth changing "America's Favorite Pastime" into some strange hybrid version? Does saving 15 minutes on a game really change your enthusiasm about the game? The game has evolved over time, but not based on a bunch of "nonsensical" imposed rules as Clippard said. As long as it may seem sometimes I like to watch nine innings of good strategic baseball it's more exciting to watch then the Home Run Derby.

Changes are coming. Now that the union has essentially "balked" at his proposals Manfred is threatening to enforce changes unilaterally next year. There is a provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows the commissioner to forcibly impose new rules after notifying the union a year in advance. This never before exercised option would allow Manfred to "modernize" the game but also create hostility with the players and possibly fans. Manfred is ready to throw around his iron fist and could send formal notice this week which would put his new rules into effect for the 2018 season.

Photo: Wendell Cruz-USATSI
Maybe I'm a baseball traditionalist or it's just my New York attitude but unilateral actions get my blood flowing like Clippard. If Manfred is looking for a fight Clippard's reaction proves that he has found it. Baseball should not be a political stage, and sadly right now it feels like one. What is best for the game should come from a collaboration between both sides and not a political standoff.....and flexing executive muscle is not the way to do it.

I see a lot of drama coming in the months ahead. Let's hope this shakes out differently then the current state of our country otherwise I may need a drink or five. 

--Jeana Bellezza
BYB Managing Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @NYPrincessJ

20% Off at with code YANKEEBLUE2017

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting on Bleeding Yankee Blue.