MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, will just not give up in his quest to speed up the game of baseball. Baseball purists, strap yourself in because this is a ride you will not like, and the game you see today will fade quickly away tomorrow…..
Beginning with the start of the minor league season in April, MLB Commissioner Manfred has issued orders by fiat designed to speed up the game of baseball, fulfilling his obsession to answer the call from fans (who have yet to be identified) to get them home from a game five minutes sooner.
The rule changes are sweeping and cover a wide array of areas MLB has targeted for some time now. Our focus here, though, is on the rule covering how extra inning games will be played henceforth.
Carefully camouflaged, MLB sets forth a barrage of reasons why the change is necessary. First and foremost, they point to the safety and health of the players who, presumably, are unable to stand on their feet for more than three hours at a time?
What’s next? Maybe we should shorten a major league game to something like a seven-inning Little League game to further protect the players from injury and maybe even, exhaustion? Here’s what’s coming when the suits have their way…
A Simulated Game Played In 2021
The home team Phillies have finally given Jake Arrieta some run support tying the game at two apiece heading into the top of the tenth inning. Freddie Freeman trots out to second base as the Braves last batter in the ninth uncontested.
Facing an obvious bunt situation to move Freeman over to third with one out, Phillies manager, Joe Girardi, signals to the bullpen as soon as the next Braves hitter is announced. Girardi wants his most athletic and best fielding pitcher on the mound. (TV Commercial).
During the time-out, Girardi calls his right fielder in, positioning him between the catcher and third baseman, who will stand his ground at third to cut the runner down, alternating from one side of the infield to the other depending on the count and which pitch is being thrown.
Somehow, the batter avoids the plethora of fielders and manages to lay down a perfect bunt moving the runner over to third. With one out now, Girardi needs one of his flamethrowers to come in and get the strikeout. He signals the bullpen. (TV Commercial). Braves manager, Chipper Jones, counters with a pinch-hitter prompting Girardi to counter-punch with another reliever. (TV Commercial).
Girardi gets the strikeout he needs, and now there are two out. With a left-handed Braves batter due up, Girardi wants his lefty specialist in to get the final out. The call to the bullpen goes in (TV Commercial).
You get the idea, which is that the “excitement” will spill over twenty minutes (minimum), challenging even the length of time it takes to play the final two minutes of an NBA game.
Nevertheless, speaking for you and me, Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner added this insult on MLB’s website: “We believe these changes to extra innings will enhance the fans’ enjoyment of the game and will become something that the fans will look forward to on nights where the game is tied late in the contest,”
So baseball needs to be “enhanced” now with manufactured forms of excitement, so fans will “look forward to” baseball’s version of the NFL’s Sudden Death.
No, Here’s The Real Deal From MLB
No, here’s the real deal. MLB is concerned not with the fans who attend games who, after all, have the option of leaving to head home any time of their choice. It’s all about television ratings.
Guess what? They’re absolutely correct in their analysis. I consider myself a rabid fan of baseball. And yet, I can’t remember the last time I watched a game on TV from start to finish. Now, why is that?
It’s not because Brett Gardner has a knack for fouling off pitches when he gets two strikes on him. It’s not because of instant replay. And it’s not because pitchers can’t throw strikes. It’s because we have to sit through two-and-a-half minutes of commercials every five or ten minutes it usually takes to play half an inning, when it’s apparent teams could change sides with a little hustle in less than a minute.
Oh, but what about those warm-up pitches that need to be taken while position players stand around thinking about dinner that night? Necessary? Hardly. Does Tiger Woods get to take a practice drive on every hole he plays? Does an NBA player get a couple of practice free throws before stepping to the line? Do we give the field-goal kicker eight practice kicks before he makes his attempt?
MLB knows where to go to speed up the game; they just don’t want to go there. TV money nowadays reaches into the billions. Teams rely on it to support their payrolls and farm systems. They can’t touch it, and they know it.
So, they tinker with the game. The trouble with change, though, is it’s easy to introduce but often impossible to retract once it’s ingrained. Try to repeal social security today, and there will be riots in the streets. Try to repeal the Second Amendment, and there are riots in the streets.
Football, a game that requires only sixty minutes on the clock to complete a game, has three-hour time slots allocated for television. No one complains, even though half the clock time is spent waiting around in huddles for the next play and some action. No one complains.
And that’s the point. No one who calls themselves a baseball fan is complaining. MLB would have us think the game is dying when it’s thriving. Seven teams had an attendance of three million or more in 2017, and the same is expected this year.
Perhaps like many fans, I feel emasculated by what is happening to the game of baseball with these manufactured changes. It’s a steamroller led by the suits at MLB. I can’t fight it, but I’ll never join it.
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