New Rule Change Proposals Are Promising

Finally something to talk about this MLB off-season (which is only days away from becoming “next” season’s spring training) besides who’s going to sign Manny or Bryce. Big news came out late last week as CBS sports and many other sources reported that the league’s owners and the players union exchanged ideas for improving the game. All of it is speculation right now, but some of the ideas make a lot of sense… and in fact, are ones I had suggested here.

Take for example “a draft advantage for winning teams, penalties for losing teams.” Now that perhaps might be going too far, but mirrors what I suggested here just last month when I pointed out that the current amateur draft no longer works. In fact, the system guaranteeing the worst teams the best draft picks now is an incentive for middle-of-the-road teams to actually try to lose, rahter than get better, in order to ensure a primo draft pick who might benefit the team about four years down the road. I think a random pick for draft spots is best, and that actually rewarding teams that win might alienate fans by ensuring the dynasties like the Red Sox and Yankees can reign unchallenged for eternity, with not only their big budgets but an unlimited pipeline to the best young players. But I’m glad others are starting to see that as long as losing 100 games is more rewarding for owners than losing 81, fans in a lot of cities aren’t going to have any reason to cheer.

Or the suggestion that MLB adopt a universal DH rule, something I suggested a long time back. Certainly some NL fans will bemoan the change and lament that it’s killing the strategy of the game, but let’s face it – it’s like a battle that ended years ago. The American League “experiment” is nearing 50 years and as engrained as a part of the game as cracker jack and expensive beers. The Japanese leagues use DHs, so too do the minor leagues. Thus, the kids hitting the major leauge mounds didn’t “grow up”, baseball-wise, hitting, and it’s unfair to expect them to learn the new skill when they become big leaguers. And unfair to fans to suffer through endless at bats of pitchers watching easy balls lob by them,or swinging two feet over balls that scratch the plate. Yes, Colorado’s German Marquez hit .300 and had 18 hits last year, but for every one of him there are ten Mke Foltynewicz’s with their 41 Ks in 58 at bats and an .069 slugging percentage. Universal DH will mean more hitting, fewer unnecessary and time-consuming pitching changes and more aging players who can still hit but are iffy in the field keeping jobs. A win-win for the teams and the fans.

Another suggestion I like is the 3-batter minimum for a pitcher. Obivously, there needs to be some caveats to that rule to allow for injuries (but that, in turn probably requires a pitcher taken out before 3-batters for “injury” goes onto the 10 day DL…now to be called an “IL” or Injured List, apparently) but in general, I like it. I don’t know any fan who is saying “I am not going to the ball game if it’s going to take 3 hours, 5minutes, but trim it to 2:50, and I’m all turned around on the subject”. Neither though, do I know a fan who likes seeing three pitchers trotted out to get three outs in the 7th inning. Or that think that the requisite 8-man bullpen is a wonderful use of roster spaces.

On that matter too, they’ve made a suggestion. Up the roster to 26 men but with a max of 12 pitchers. I like that. Each reliever facing another batteror two can mean a slightly trimmed down ‘pen, and that in turn can mean a bit more complete bench…. more pinch hitting possibilities, more defensive replacements and other types of “strategy” the NL fans love but that are becoming scarcer and scarcer with the simplified home run or strikeout type of game today.

Other suggestions made I’m more on the fence about, like lowering the mound (I guess to lower the advantage 100 mph pitchers have over hitters) or having one solid trade deadline before the All Star game, but all in all I find it encouraging. With owners upset attendance is sliding, players irate the free agent market is starting to dry up and all of us fans thinking the game is not improving by the year with increased strikeout rates matching increased rates of teams finishing below .400, it’s necessary that the sides start to talk and make some suggestions back and forth before the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in 2021.

14 comments

  1. badfinger20

    The one I’m totally for is to stop teams from tanking season after season. They have to be careful about the way they do it. Just because a team loses doesn’t mean they tanked on purpose…but it needs to be stopped… and if they have a tax on high your payroll can go they need a floor also.

    I don’t agree with lowering the mound…you are messing too much with the integrity on the field. Hitters and pitchers will adjust….oh just throwing this out there…I’m not in favor of a machine or computer calling strikes and balls either.

    You can guess which change I don’t want to see. I’m an NL guy. I love the fact that the leagues are different. It would be like someone saying all baseball fields have to be the same size… no Fenway, Wrigely, etc… it makes baseball different. Even Joe Madden said managing in the National is much harder and you have to think ahead much more than the American…
    I get that pitchers don’t hit usually. But…saying all of this…I know it’s coming.

    • Dave

      I don’t see a need to change the mound, but it wouldn’t bother me that much if they do it. The one which really bugs me, although not mentioned in this latest round of ideas announced last week, is the dumb idea to have phantom base runners appear on 2nd to start extra innings in order to speed up games. That to me is asinine and really interfering with the whole beauty and intergrity of the game.

      • Dave

        also, yes, absolutely correct that not all teams that are lousy are going out of their way to do so. Which is why actually penalizing losing teams directly would be inappropriate.

      • badfinger20

        I’ve heard they tried that phantom stuff in minor leagues… I hate that…it does mess with the game.

        You wanna know what I don’t get? Ever watch the last 2 minutes of a basketball or football game? It lasts an enternity. Football games last just as long or longer…if the commercials were cut that would help lol…that won’t happen..

        I get it about the pitching changes and I don’t mind that either…I think the rosters should be 26…that would be great.

      • Dave

        Yes, football is tedious at best. So too can NHL hockey be with all the whistles & line changes, but never hear their leagues complaining about length of games.

      • badfinger20

        That is what I don’t understand. Probably because they have a clock… I can think of no other reason.

      • Dave

        I imagine you’re opinion is the majority in NL cities. I asked Mike Mills (a noted braves fan) online what he thought of the idea of “universal” Dh. His answer: “never!”

      • badfinger20

        Yea…but I know it’s coming. The players want it because it opens jobs for some players. I read if it happens…it won’t be until 2022

        This is wandering off subject…but I’m wondering if it will be a work stoppage coming up because of this free agency stuff.

      • Dave

        I don’ t think there will be this year but there is a lot of animosity between the players & owners. That’s why it’ s good they’re bouncing ideas off each other now because I see a lot of storm clouds on the horizon when this CBA runs out. If attendance continues to drop, revenue will shrink & the free agents will be squeezed even more, meaning young players will want to get more quicker…either through earlier free agency or higher minimums. And that’s just the start of it…

      • badfinger20

        I can’t blame GMs not wanting to pay big for the later years… Like Bryce Harper…why would anyone want to give out a 10 year contract when you are paying 30 million a year when he is 33-36…
        One way is to pay them more while they are younger…instead of the minimum…pay them by numbers what they are worth. Heck….I don’t know…I just hope they do get it worked out.

      • Dave

        I do too. I think what you’re saying is the way it’s going, which isn’t a bad thing. The Red Sox GM or prez said as much not long ago, that now stats show they get more of their “WAR” from young players than older veterans. So you’ll see less huge FA contracts , or fewer real long term ones (I know if I was a GM I’d be very reluctant to go past 5 years on a free agent, even if only 26 or so years old) but young players will somehow find a way to get more of their fair share

      • badfinger20

        The Pujols days are over…for sure…and really they should be because it doesn’t make sense but I do see their point…they don’t want to pay for the old years so they need to pay for the young.

      • Dave

        yep! And for every optimist like me, there’s a pessimist like Adam Wainwright of the Cards today saying he fears a wildcat strike by the players mid-season this year, over 2 years before the CBA expires.

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