Is MLB Backing Up Or Could They Really Be Listening

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred at the All-Star game

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred used his ASG platform to announce a backward slide on recent changes. Late to the party as always is MLB…

Should we be condemning or congratulating MLB for showing up late to the party in Denver?

As I look at MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s so-called State Of Baseball Address today in Denver, I don’t know, but at least we see a movement forward to make a few things right.

According to reports by ESPN and others,  Banning with the shift, eliminating seven-inning doubleheaders, and playing extra innings without a runner starting on second base is all on the table as Major League Baseball (MLB) continues its post-COVID-19 return to normalcy while also negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the players’ association.

That doesn’t mean they’re history; it only means the can is kicked down the road, pending negotiations between owners and players when the current agreement expires in December.

MLB: “Oops,” But Don’t Ask Me To Say So

True to form, in other words, this is Rob Manfred saying, “Oops, maybe we made a mistake with these rule changes, but I’ll be damned if I’ll say so outright.”

You can watch Manfred’s performance for the cameras here.

Taken one by one, each of MLB’s backward swings is a reaction to a backlash from fans, players, and managers, and the conflicts between all three are likely the reason why MLB decided to back off.

Rob Manfred feeling the Stress (Dallas Morning News)
Rob Manfred feeling the Stress (Dallas Morning News)

The seven-inning doubleheader rule is a direct slap in the face to fans who have the full price to watch, for example, a movie in its entirety, while managers delight in not having to fill four innings with their bullpen.

Similarly, MLB’s issue of the shift is largely thought to be something that should be left in the hands of each team, not to be banned because major league hitters have yet to wake up to the fact there’s a “big ‘ole hole” on the other side of the infield, with runs to be scored – if only…

You can read for yourself the spin Mandred puts on everything, but clearly, it’s the same old song from MLB that leaves us wondering – is there anyone at MLB headquarters in New York City who has the faintest idea of what they’re doing?

MLB: Change For The Sake Of Change

Change for the sake of change is never a good idea, although Lord knows, Major League Baseball needs to be freshened up a bit.

Of course, missing from Manfred’s remarks are still other changes, now in the lab in various MLB minor league ballparks. Extreme measures like moving the rubber back a foot is MLB’s answer to the woeful lack of hitting and batting averages we see this year.

Radical changes of this nature filter down to neutral changes like expanding the width of bases to 18″ for player safety reasons, and you have to wonder why there’s even an experimental stage required – just do it.

MLB: An Imbalance And Disconnect With Reality

At 80 something years of age, I don’t know what Joe Torre is doing these days in his capacity with MLB, but surely it’s not likely his words of reason and experience over the years are not being heeded.

Derek Jeter - Some New MLB Blood?
Derek Jeter – Some New MLB Blood?

Rob Manfred is an “owner’s guy,” hired and subjected to firing at will at the bequest of his beneficiaries. That needs to change, but we need not hold our breath for that to happen.

Still, team owners like Derek Jeter, Steve Cohen, and others have a vision of the game beyond dollars and cents.

MLB will not change until team owners like Peter Angelos, Orioles owner since 1993, Jerry Reinsdorf, White Sox 1981, Christopher Ilitch, Detroit 1992, John S. Middleton, Phillies 1981, and a host of others, much like the Wilpons in New York, are swept aside in favor of revenue-oriented (yes!), but also baseball savvy people who know and understand the game of baseball.

Will that happen in my lifetime? Probably not, but until then, all we can look forward to is more of MLB’s “tinkering” with the game, with a few hits and mostly misses that continue to confuse fans, and especially new ones who need a scorecard to know “Who’s On First.”

An MLB Fan Hanging In There…

As a fan of baseball for more than a half-century, I’ve become tolerant of almost anything – as long as there’s a box score to peruse tomorrow morning.

But Rob Manfred and MLB’s statement yesterday has given me pause to wonder again – am I the fool on the hill…

Here’s What Readers Are Saying…

Michael A Guerin Go back to original rules, the shift is the only thing I have no problem with. Hitters should learn to adjust to it

Drew Shew  Avoid using covid as the opportunity to experiment but also as the excuse to negate the experiment.

Al Hare Who know’s with Manfred, he’s the worst commissioner we have ever had! The min he made the All-star game political he destroyed whatever integrity MLB had, and his handling of the Astro’s cheating scandal was appalling!

Mike Harrington It seems like Manfred might be listening to the negative reaction to these awful rules. I can respect when someone can admit they were wrong. Runner on 2nd in extras takes away home-field advantage, and isn’t real baseball. The 7 inning doubleheaders were understandable last year, but are just robbing fans of entertainment at this point this year. Lastly, it seems like a majority of NL fans came around on the DH after having it last year and seeing the benefits.

Jl Lofty The shift should stay hitters gotta figure it out rest of the new rules need to go this isn’t little league

Dennis Algarin Leave the game of BASEBALL alone. It’s supposed to be played spontaneously, not by analytics.

Sher Heide Maybe they’re listening, who knows. Personally, I hate the 7 innings doubleheader. I really hate the pitcher and 3 hitter minimum. If your pitcher doesn’t have it you have to leave him in…insanity.

Jim Schofield Also change the rule that the winning league in the All-Star Game gets home-field advantage for the World Series. That should be determined by the best record. Author’s Note: Amen.

Michael Oneil Ban the shift? That would affect pitchers, and help batters.. (That’s gonna happen)Ban 7 inning doubles (won’t be surprised if all games change to 7 innings)Eliminate #GhostRunner ( honestly it’s a stupid idea from start) Universal DH ( I was against, but have changed opinion)The more they tweak the game though, the less fun it is. Baseball isn’t just a game, it’s an experience.

Ron Donald Banning the shift s/b in the hands of players, managers, hitting coaches. Teach hitters to hit to parts of the field unguarded until defensive coaches adjust their approach. Getting rid of all the rest of the BS I approve of.

Close Of Published Comments And Final Thoughts

With this and due to space restrictions, published comments are closed.

While readers’ vengeance at MLB is not as forward as mine, there is discontent with Manfred’s mid-season suggestion of rule changes.

This signals it will be a lively offseason when MLB makes its Formal proposals to the Player’s Association in December and beyond.

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Steve Contursi
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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.