Monday, January 22, 2018


"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players. But if we can’t get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other." - Rob Manfred

Photo: Getty Images
And my preferred path here is for Rob Manfred to NOT act unilaterally and not make drastic changes to the game but....we can't always get what we want according to Manfred it would appear.

So the pace of play has been a concern for awhile now. Personally, I don't have a big issue with how long the games last. Would it be nice if they went a little faster? Sure. Does it make me more or less inclined to watch an entire game? No. I love the game. I will watch it from start to finish even in extra innings and it won't bother me. If I know I can't watch the game from start to finish I have it waiting for me on my DVR. It's really not a big deal.

Photo: Getty Images
Manfred's newest proposal both a 20 second pith clock would be enforced and there would be a limit to the number of mound visits in each inning. Granted, the minor leagues already uses a pitch clock and don't seem to have many discrepancies using it big leaguers aren't sold on it. The proposal says the pitch clock would start when the pitcher gets the ball on the mound (important note: not on the rubber) and would allow for 20 seconds between each hitter. If a pitcher or batter violates the rule a warning would first be issued but another violation would result in added balls or strikes, ESPN has a breakdown of this HERE. As far as mound visits are concerned, those would be limited to one visit per pitcher, per inning whether it is from player, coach or manager. A second visit means there is a pitching change.

This seems like something both sides should be able to negotiate yet Manfred and the Player's Association can't come to an agreement and if that's the case Manfred is ready to flex his muscle and act unilaterally....which I think would be a mistake. It creates a standoff and brings extra tension to the game. It also makes Manfred look like an a-hole on a power trip.

Source: Jason Miller/Getty Images North America
I found an interesting piece by the Star Tribune HERE where Brian Dozier has a lot of strong opinions on the proposal that the Players' Association rejected. “We don’t want to damage the integrity of the game and change the game completely. If this does go through, it definitely changes the integrity of the game, and we are all against it. There’s so much gray area in the proposal, it just didn’t sit well with us.”

It's a reasonable concern. Baseball is a game of strategy and it has a lot of human error. We recently had the addition of instant replay and the intentional walk. The change to the intentional walk certainly makes a small change to the pace of play but I still can't say I'm in love with the idea. It changes the real time dynamic of a game. And what about instant replay? That can really slow the game down, yet it was added to help improve accuracy.

Armando Galarraga, anyone?

As for the gray areas in the proposal....that is a legitimate concern in any matter baseball related or not. If Manfred is going to unilaterally enforce his proposal he is going to have to really remove uncertainty and subjectivity from the new rules. I think Dozier's extreme example of a walk-off bases loaded home run after a batter takes too long to get into the batter's box is something that obviously needs to be addressed. "Say it’s the bottom of the ninth, full count, bases loaded, and a guy needs to take a deep breath or gets the hiccups or something. Is that a walk off? Come on."

Photo: Chicago Tribune
Dozier's example seems wild, but if Manfred wants the players to stop fighting the proposed changes he needs to address the wild and far fetched as well as the more realistic. Baseball is America's Favorite Pastime so changes need to have structure. If Manfred does act unilaterally he needs to figure it out now, Spring Training is around the corner.

I guess we'll see what happens when MLB owners meet at he end of the month. They play a big part in this too since they have to approve of the changes. I wonder what they will say. Some people are ready for some changes. I'm not one of them but I understand the concern. I'm good with the game just how it is but I guess it really doesn't matter because changes are coming.....

What are your thoughts? What, if anything do you want to see changed? Comment and tell us.

-- Jeana Bellezza
BYB Managing Editor
Twitter: @nyprincessj 

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