MLB is testing a rule in the Atlantic League that moves the pitching rubber back 12 inches. Enabling stubborn hitters and GMs is not the way.
Major League Baseball (MLB), under the direction of its commissioner, Rob Manfred, apparently has run out of sensible ways to bring more offense into the game – well, almost that is – because he’s pulled another one from out of his hat.
Too many strikeouts, too many elite pitchers in the game, boring baseball is the charge. So, why not add an extra foot to the flight of a pitched ball?
That’ll give these pitchers something to think about.
You bet it will.
So, we have MLB pitchers who learned how to develop their art throwing from 60 feet six inches to home plate since high school.
Many have become experts at their craft while hitters have not kept up, choosing instead to get themselves out swinging for the fences.
MLB now says, well, if these homer crazy idiots refuse to adjust, then we’ll have to kick start the game a little more, giving them more time to recognize the difference between the spin on a fastball versus a slider. And maybe, we can knock a couple of MPH off those “unfair” 100 mph fastballs…
MLB Lowers The Pitching Mound In 1968
MLB fans will recall the 1968 season when Batting Leaders looked like this:
In contrast, MLB fans were treated to record-breaking performances and total domination of hitters that same season (here’s the ERA leaders).
MLB’s reaction was immediate, as they decided to lower the pitching mound. There was little or no rebellion among pitchers or teams, adjustments were made, and life went on.
Lowering the mound, though, is drastically different from moving the rubber back. It’s the same as if MLB moved the distance between bases from 90 to a hundred feet or 80 feet.
Or, if the NFL expanded the distance between goal lines to 120 yards instead of 100 yards.
MLB: Manufacturing Change Is Not The Answer
Look, MLB is to be applauded for seeking to find ways to improve the game. But manufacturing change is not the answer, and without objection, this idea belongs in the trash can, even without a need for experimentation in the minor leagues.
A better answer lies with the batters, and the front offices who pay the most money to those who hit forty home runs in-between 250 strikeouts.
The error of their ways begins with the MLB College Draft when teams look first for the player who stands 6’6″ and weighs 240 pounds, built in the vernacular like a “brick s___house.”
And the list of these all-stars goes on, but you’ll notice beyond the lateness of being drafted; they’re all excellent professional hitters who excelled at making adjustments as their careers took off.
In sum, the game should not need to come to the hitters to make it more exciting for fans.
MLB: When Will Hitter Be Held Accountable?
MLB’s talk and experimentation regarding limitations on the shift and its impact on batting averages throughout the league.
When instead, it should be the hitters who make adjustments to “go the other way” rather than continuously (and stupidly) trying to hit “through the shift.”
What’s more exciting – a fly ball that lands at the base of the wall for an out, or a hit-and-run play on a perfectly placed ball through the infield and a runner going full-speed to third base just ahead of an outfielder’s throw?
Forget the stolen base. Who gets paid to steal bases, even though all of the basic baseball skills of running, throwing, and catching to apply a tag are utilized in two seconds of pure drama and action.
Don’t be thinking I’m an old-school guy who yearns for days of yesteryear. Some of the rule changes made by MLB are working and good for the game.
I count, for example, the seven-inning doubleheader rule and a runner on second base to begin an extra-inning game among those, but there has to be a line drawn, and MLB should know it without having to be told.
I located a counter-argument in an article that appeared in the Washington Post. Here’s an excerpt:
“But the fact of the matter is that 21st-century baseball players have outgrown the field on which they play. As Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer pointed out in a piece this spring, the 90 feet between bases — which actually predates 60 feet 6 inches — has remained pure because even as runners have gotten faster, the arm strength and range of infielders have increased, too, so the balance between offense and defense can still exist.”
But more than anything, that reinforces the point that witnessing acrobatic plays made on an MLB field enhances the game without any tinkering.
Let The Players Play – It’s Survival Of The Fittest
To illustrate, Francisco Lindor talked about the shift, but the point he was making in this quote is that he takes pride in making those plays in the field by demonstrating his athletic ability and wooing MLB fans.
“The shift has got to be cut down,” Lindor told Sports Illustrated. “Let me do me. Let me make the crazy play. Let me be like, ‘OK, he’s going to pull the ball. I can’t be on that side of the base.’ So as the pitch goes, I run on the other side of the base—pow!—and make the play.”
“Pow”! It is better than a home run in Lindor’s game, just like it should be and can be in other player’s games – if it is encouraged rather than not.
So it’s not simply a matter of the latest change dreamed up by the suits at MLB to move the mound back. Instead, it’s becoming system-wide, and there doesn’t seem to be an end to “manufacturing” a better game for fans.
Let the players play. It’s a game in the truest American tradition – survival of the fittest – and if the pitchers keep working at refining their skills while hitters remain mired in theirs, so be it.
If general managers and owners continue to reward players with outlandish contracts to hit home runs instead of moving runners up with a timely base hit, then they deserve what they get as well.
MLB should consider taking a nod from the NBA, which highlights skill sets during its All-Star extravaganza in addition to its Slam Dunk Home Run Derby.
But that’s going too far, and for the moment, let’s kill the latest and greatest from the suits at MLB…
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Yes, but typical!!!!