Wednesday, June 02, 2021

How I would fix Major League Baseball

Here’s a Friday Question that became an entire post.  Warning:  It’s about baseball.

KLAC Guy asks:

I have been reading comments by Don Mattingly and Reggie Jackson about their dissatisfaction with the way baseball is played today. Both said that many of today’s games are unwatchable due to the lack of offense and the high number of strikeouts. Yankees play by play announcer, Michael Kay, talks about it often on his talk show. If you were baseball’s commissioner, what changes would you make to make the games more entertaining?

Okay, some of these are radical.

First, I’d eliminate the shift. 

I’d eliminate walk-up music.  Get in there and hit.

I’d install a pitch clock.  It works in the minors.  Get the ball and throw it.  And if you’re a hitter, stay in the box and hit.  No more “Human rain delays.” 

With two strikes, you get two foul balls.  Any more than two and it’s a strike out.  No more fouling off pitch after pitch. 

An announcer friend made this suggestion that I would use.   With a runner on first you get one throw over there.  You may say that gives the runner an unfair advantage.  If you think he’s going to steal, pitch out.  There were teams last year who never needed to pitch out once. 

You want fewer home runs?   Move fences back.  That also means outfielders have to cover more ground.  More balls might drop in for singles and doubles. 

Eliminate the stupid extra-inning rule where a runner starts at second base.  Two sacrifices and the runner could score.  That’s an unearned win in my book. 

Challenges must take no more than three minutes.  And if that doesn’t work, eliminate challenges.  I’d rather see arguments in front of the fans than everyone sitting around for ten minutes while umpires review replays in New York. 

Lose one commercial break per half inning.  Charge more for the commercials to make up the difference. 

If a pitcher warms up to begin an inning he has to face at least one batter.  None of this Tony LaRussa shit where a pitcher warms up, then a pinch-hitter is announced, and he pulls the pitcher to bring in someone else, thus causing another three to four minute delay. 

Study analytics before the game all you want, but during the game, no note cards. 

No seven-inning double headers.  This is the fucking big leagues.  

I would fire Angel Hernandez, an absolute disgrace of an umpire.

A quicker hook for pitchers who throw at a batter on purpose.  And an automatic one game suspension.  Pitchers throw at 100 miles an hour now.  They could really kill someone.  Managers get ejected too.  This also eliminates a number of brawls through the course of the season.  

Along those same lines, any player who it is determined willfully tried to injure another (e.g. spikes up) get suspended for at least a week or more if it’s a repeat offense.  Ty Cobb is dead. 

I know.  I’d be a hard-ass commissioner and the owners and players would be pissed at me.  But the games would zip along and there would be way more action and you’d get home at a decent time.    Unfortunately, no one has asked me to be the commissioner. 

65 comments :

Unkystan said...

AMEN to every point!

Ere I Saw Elba said...

I did not know about the "starting on second base in extra innings" thing. I'm an old school baseball fan, but this is appalling little-league shit. And yes, it's become so much of a pitching game that often it just isn't fun. I do however disagree about your four foul balls making a strikeout idea. The batter having the chance to get a hit is sacrosanct in my book.

I'm liberal in almost everything, but maybe I'm conservative when it comes to sports, particularly baseball. Bring it back to the 1950s.

Andreia said...

I've only had one run in with baseball (a Cubs game in 2018) and I gotta say it was disappointingly boring :( When the game got going it was great fun but there was far too much waiting around.

Your suggestions seem like they would liven the game up fantastically.

Iconoclast Jones said...

This reads like it is half tongue-in-cheek making fun of "purists" and half like sincere suggestions.

Jeff said...

It's not clear to me how you would legislate eliminating the shift. Are you going to draw a line straight from second base to the center field wall that the shortstop cannot cross until the pitch is thrown?

Karen B said...

Maybe it's a Friday question, but oh how I'd love your commentary on last week's Javy Baez/Will Craig play. That was unbelievable (especially when scored with Yakety-yak)

Keith Shipman said...

Next thing you know we'll be giving everyone a participation ribbon...
I wish you were Commissioner - You'd enact positive change that respects the tradition of the game while appropriately appealing to prospective new fans.

PalinDrome said...

My rule change-

Treat the pick off throws like foul balls are to hitters. Throw to first and it is an automatic ball, but you can't walk on a pick off throw.

I can see this really opening up the running game, since there will be consequences for the constant throws to first.

Tom Galloway said...

Note that it's now possible to pitch a perfect game and lose. Go into the 10th and the aforementioned two sacrifices win without a player ever reaching first safely based on actual pitching.

Tom Galloway said...

Also, should Dave Kingman be reconsidered for the Hall of Fame? His homer or out style now fits with the rest of baseball after all...

fred said...

Fouling off the ball working your butt off for a walk is part of the game and always has been. No limits on foul balls!!

RIP to Robert Hogan who played helicopter pilot Lt. "Smilin’ Jack” Mitchell on Mash.

Curt Alliaume said...

Not dissimilar to a Tom Boswell column from over a quarter of a century ago.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/magazine/1988/04/17/the-40-fiats-of-chairman-boz/c7ec94f6-11d0-42e6-a38a-79c8a0339e5c/

kent said...

The best, most suspenseful at bat I've seen this year was Chris Taylor's 14 pitch battle. I wouldn't want your two foul ball rule to eliminate that.
The one pick-off throw is s step too far for me but a three throw rule would suit me.
The rest I would endorse, especially eliminating the shift which discriminates against left handed hitters due to the proximity of first base to that side.

kent said...

Afterthought, the two foul ball rule would mean even more strikeouts and there are far too many as it is.

Roger Owen Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cowboy Surfer said...

Baby steps...add the DH to the National League.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Game Six of the World Series, bottom of the tenth. Two out, two on and a slumping Mookie Wilson comes up. He runs the count full before leaping over a wild pitch from Bob Stanley, allowing Kevin Mitchell to score from third. Tie game! Mookie fouls off pitch after pitch in the at-bat of a lifetime before finally driving a weak ground ball between the legs of Bill Buckner, and Ray Knight scores from second base.

You would deprive us of a finish like that?

Raymond E Zinsius said...

The best way to get rid of the shift is for hitters to learn how to go the other way.

Mark said...

Move the mound back a foot or two. Check baseballs for foreign substances and suspend guilty pitchers for a month for the first offense, three months for the second and a year for the third. I mean take the balls to labs for inspection, not just at the park during the game. End the shift. All those changes will add to more offense without destroying the character of the game.

cjdahl60 said...

I agree with all of your suggestions other than the two foul ball limit. Your idea about eliminating some commercial breaks is a definite winner! I've never heard that one suggested but in hindsight it's obvious.

I live in the Seattle area and the Mariners AAA team plays in nearby Tacoma. I attended a Tacoma game earlier this year and the pitch clock was a revelation! This change alone would speed up the game and maintain fan interest.

Ballpark Frank said...

Actually I work in a minor league press box and pitch clock DOESN'T work; it's a joke. You would be amazed how long 20 seconds can be and even then, the pitcher can simply step off the rubber at :01 and get a full new 20 seconds. The rare time someone goes longer than 20 seconds, the plate umpire is so focused on setting up to watch for an upcoming pitch they rarely notice anyway so there is no penalty even when it hits :00. (There is no horn like a 24-second clock in the NBA.)
Pitchers are so accustomed to working slow from high school to college, 3:00+ games in the minors are the norm, not the exception.

What is even more boring than pace of play is the fact that 40-45% of all plate appearances result in a ball not being put in play. K, BB, HBP.

Rory Wohl said...

Ken,

What are your thoughts on "pitching substances"?

I hear/read stories that say batters are ok with pitchers using the sunscreen/rosin combo to better control the pitch (they don't want a 100 mph heater to the ol' noggin's either), but, at the same time, other "substances" give the pitcher too much of an advantage.

I agree with many of your suggestions, but the problem is that the commissioner isn't a neutral party whose only obligation is to the best interests of the game. They are an employee of the owners, so pissing off the owners means you won't be commissioner for very long.

kent said...

How you gonna move the walls back at Wrigley, Fenway, San Francisco or several others?
Besides, they're all different to begin with.

kent said...

The shift discriminates against left-handed hitters because the fielder can play 80 feet out into right field and still get the runner at first, while a shift on the other side can't be positioned that way because the Fielder would have too long of a throw to get the runner at first.

kent said...

Interesting idea. Would you do anything to deter unlimited throws once the hitter has a three ball count?

Mike McCann said...

Totally agreed on eliminating the (over) shift. Let's do it gradually. Next year, no infielder can have more than one foot on the outfield grass when a ball is pitched. If that doesn't improve the action, then draw a chalk line through 2nd base and require two fielders to stay on one side of the line, and the other two on the other.

Pitch clock is fine. Watch a game from the '60s and '70s -- there are plenty of them posted online -- and you can't help notice how much quicker the "pace of play" is.

Disagree on the foul ball limitations. That's good strategy and builds excitement. Plus it gives the batter a chance to see ALL of a pitcher's repetoire.

Yes on moving the fences back. Or raise them higher to cause more balls bouncing back for doubles and triples.

LOSE that horrible extra inning rule -- except in the all star game, when teams run out of players, so "forcing" a final score is somewhat important.

I like cutting back on commercials -- but I fear it will mean uniforms looking like NASCAR and pro golf, with sponsor logos cluttering them up to make up for the money. Look at photos of Dodger Stadium when it opened. Now the Dodgers play in front of as much signage as they did in Ebbets Field.

I don't mind the seven inning doubleheaders. They help when you have to quickly schedule a pair after wet or cold weather back east (as we had last week). Frankly, giving fans 14 innings of action for one ticket is better than a day/night "split admission" pair -- that always comes off as greedy. Plus, I can't imagine the players like sitting around for 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Hernandez is one of several bad umpires. Grade them out. If the mechanic who fixed your car was inept, you'd want the dealer to fire him. Why should a bad ump be protected?

Either you or Bob Costas would make a fine commissioner. But the commish is really just a spokesman for the owners who call all the shots. The last commissioner who tried to exercise power was Fay Vincent -- and look where that got him. Fired.

sanford said...

2 fouls with 2 strikes is silly. I would guess the average pitches per at bat is no more than 4 or 5. One throw to 1st is also silly. Unless there is a fast runner at first multiple throws dont happen often. Besides steals are way down. I dont care if a player has a card. It isn't delaying the game. As to the shift learn how to hit to the opposite field or lay down a bunt. Get rid of the man on second in extra innings and no more 7 inning games. Try moving the fences back at Wrigley or the wall at fences. Deaden the ball imstead

Ere I Saw Elba said...

To clarify, in case I said it wrong in the first comment, I meant that four foul balls shouldn't be an out, regardless of where the first two strikes come from. So once they're past the two strike mark, let them have as many fouls as they want. Set the batters free!

Unknown said...

I agree with about half of the comments and disagree with half - and on the 7-inning doubleheaders I can see both arguments. The runner on second rule in extra innings is the worst!

The simplest solution is to start with a pitch clock, especially with no one on base - they had it briefly about 40 or 50 years ago. Bud Harrelson of the Mets had a 3-0 count before the pitcher actually threw a pitch - the umpire kept calling a ball after 20 seconds.

Also between pitches hitters take forever, walking around, adjusting their protective gear, opening and closing their batting repeatedly, checking their e-mail messages and so on. Then, after all that they ask for time when the pitcher goes into his wind up - Umpires should stop giving batters timeouts.

Also, replays of plays on the bases (except first) should be done away with. This nonsense that the batter might have slid one inch off the base is utterly ridiculous. If he beat the through he's safe, if not he's out - this nitpicking isn't good for the game - bring back the "neighborhood play."

Just my 2-cents
Rich

Jim said...

No take on the electronic strike zone?

There’s my number one baseball hack. Reassign the home plate duties and status to that of just another base ump.

I’m super tired of these 200 different strike zones that can change minute by minute, almost as much as I’m weary of Angel Hernandez. I am with you there. Misplaced ego.

I dislike that experience to the point I prefer to skip games in which he is involved, but that horror show would be rendered mostly moot by the box strike zone. Time to try that. Maybe just in his home plate games.

Headacher said...

You forgot 'Stop interviewing players/managers DURING game play'. Cubs Manager David Ross has proven a couple times now that he cannot give an interview DURING game play AND manage the team AT THE SAME TIME! ("Did he walk him???")

Stop putting microphones on the players. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo to opposing team player on first base: "Really warm today." Opposing player: "(Unintelligible.)" My, how interesting!

Get rid of the pitcher. Put a pitching machine out there instead. Program it to "throw" random pitches/strikes at all times. Final scores will be akin to Cubs: 161, Cardinals: 157. Now THAT would be exciting, dude!

Yes, get the DH in there in the National League. (If the Pitching Machine idea is a no-go.)

Get Robots to replace the Umpires. Any player objects, "BAM!" Robo-Ump takes care of him. Or her, for that matter.

Get Robots to replace the players. I mean, what the heck, why not? Now we're talking Cubs: 1592, Cardinals: 157.

And if you're playing the All-Star game, and run out of pitchers when the game is tied? Oh goodness yes, end the game right there and then.

Mike H. said...

Agree with everything BUT the shift banning.
It's strategy. Like coming in when there's going to be a bunt or throwing a pitch outside to a batter that can't hit it. Strategy is GOOD. Batters just need to beat it by. . .being better hitters.
And I love the game.

Kevin said...

I don't like most of your suggestions. Eliminate the shift? No. Eliminate batters who can't beat the shift. Ted Williams would have figured it out.

I agree with only a few of your ideas, like cutting back or getting rid of the seemingly non stop replay reviews, ditching the pathetic runner on 2nd extra innings nonsense, and throwing out the 7 inning double headers. If Baseball games are too long for you, then this isn't your sport. You're probably on your phone the whole game no matter the pace anyway.

Additionally, get rid of inter-league play and bring back the four pitch intentional walk.

But it's a lost cause anyway. Once the NL takes on the DH, I'm probably done with the sport all together.

Anita Bonita said...

Games used to be faster and more exciting even without the recent changes. A lot of this started when CBS got 2:20 for each commercial break instead of the standard 2:00 ... and it's not helped by having six pitchers to finish a 3-2 game. I have fond memories of a Rick Reuschel-Ron Darling matchup that went 1:56. (Darling said after the game that someone must have had a hot date that Saturday night.) I got out in 1993. As Tim McCarver told me when I left, "You picked a fahn tahm to bail."

Terry Harvey said...

All good and a worthy discussion. But of course the owners are really only focused on one thing, are we making a profit? If the answer is yes, expect not even mere consideration of changing a darn thing. Too bad though, the game needs a nudge right now for the sake of everyone, both players and fans.

LAprGuy said...

Some "yes and" thoughts:

Make it like tennis where teams can appeal 1 borderline pitch call per inning: Go to the jumbotron and see whether the call was a strike or not. If they get it right, they can use another one.

Eliminate the "look...his foot came off the base for 6 video frames" rule. If you don't tag the runner in the first 89.9 feet, he's safe.

And, yes, must have Universal DH. You can't grow pitchers to be 6'9" and still have them bat - none of these supertall, reedy kids ever bat in high school (or college).

Gene Pinder said...

I agree with most of these. Baseball has gotten too long and boring.

Jahn Ghalt said...

You want fewer home runs? Move fences back.

Not so long ago a nice lady pointed out the only limitation on the fences was a 250-foot minimum - with "infinite foul lines". By rule this is true - which begged a fantasy in which an owner could push back the fences far enough to prohibit home runs (except the leg it out kind). This would "work" for one season - whereupon the owners would set a maximum.

As a personal preference I LIKE IT when a hard drive can sneak over the fence.

With two strikes, you get two foul balls (then a strike out)

Not so sure this is a good idea. This would be exploited using high heat - and batting averages would go down from near historic current minimums to even lower.

extra-inning rule where a runner starts at second base. Two sacrifices and the runner could score.

So far I've only seen one of these - a recent A's at M's. The A's scored one and the Mariners two - neither with sac bunts (which is what could be used by right-hander against the shift BTW)

No seven-inning double headers.

As child I felt cheated when our Alaska League college mercenaries first came up in 1969 and they had those 9 and 7-inning doubleheaders. Now, it's just fine.

I’d be a hard-ass commissioner

I didn't know the MLB commissioner had authority like that. Kennesaw Mountain Landis has long been dead.

Jeff Boice said...

MLB already has a pitch clock rule- it's had one for some time- albeit it only applies when the bases are empty. 12 seconds! They just refuse to enforce it. Maybe shrinking the strike zone would help speed up the game as well. To me the best part of baseball is when the leadoff hitter gets on first- then you get to play guessing games- send the runner?-hit-and-run?-bunt? I prefer that to watching a bunch of strikeouts and homeruns.







Jahn Ghalt said...

A "conservative" wrote:

Bring it back to the 1950s.

In 1968 Yaz led the AL batting .301. In 1969 they lowered the mound from 15 to 10 inches.

I wonder if fast balls would click up 1 MPH or so with a 1950s mound?

A novice wrote:

I've only had one (boring) run in with baseball

Whenever I go, I hope for chatty neighbors - which really helps during the slow times.

Another commenter made an oblique reference to the 2002 ASG "draw" travesty:

in the all star game, when teams run out of players

THAT was horrible - and un-necessary, since to be voted to the ASG assures a start for position players - and since having DNP's for at least some others used to be traditional - and still an honor, BTW.

Even stipulating that all named pitchers are done - there's an easy fix. Swap your pitcher for your strongest outfield arm. Give him the ball and tell him what every little league coach tells HIS pitchers: "trust your teammates".



Ted Williams would have figured out(the shift)

IIRC the shift WAS used against Teddy Baseball - wonder how THAT worked?

VincentS said...

I think you'd make a great commissioner, Ken.

Douglas Trapasso said...

Here's one from my soapbox:

Require every team to broadcast at least 25 % of their games on a local, non-cable, non-streaming channel. This is the best way to ensure that the game doesn't lose interest among today's children, who are of course, your future farm team and fans.

Ed from SFV said...

Eliminate the DH.

Instill a bias to the pitcher in calling balls/strikes. Force the batters to look/be alive. If an umpire refuses to adjust, see ya. If it means a physical expansion of the plate, fine.

End the automatic granting of times out. If one is not obviously needed, eg an injury, don't grant one. Oh...if a batter wants to dress out as a football player, he must wear that outfit until his fate is decided. No more bat boys (persons?) or coaches going out as veritable butlers.

DwWashburn said...

I'm sure you were trying to be humorous on some of these suggestions. Here are mine (some are the same or identical to yours).

Eliminate all of the "temporary" Little League tricks started in the plague shortened 2020 season (7 inning double headers, 10th inning bastardization, universal DH). If you're going to keep these rules, then go all the way. Let the batters hit from a tee and have a mercy rule so that games would stop if one team has a five run lead. Either baby the players or treat them like professionals.

Yes I know the DH is coming but until regular players all hit better than every pitcher the DH makes no sense. My favorite team, the St Louis Cardinals, currently has FOUR field players that have played at least half of all games thus far and their averages are under .200. Hell, even Albert Pujols was under .200 when he was released. If low batting averages from a pitcher are the reason you're using a specialized player then how about DHing for anyone hitting less than .250? Makes as much sense as the current DH structure. .

And while we're at it, why give pitchers free rides? Make them improve their hitting skills. Would you put up with an outfielder who was excellent in catching and fielding but had to toss the ball to another outfielder because he couldn't throw? The thing that sets baseball apart from all other major sports is the presence of the complete player. Until that lousy DH came in in the seventies, baseball did not have any "specialists" like other sports.

Have every team play six days a week. Monday would be an off day for ALL teams.

Limit the amount of nationally televised Yankee games to two a month instead of one a day as it currently stands.

Bob Costas for Commissioner.

But if I were only allowed to change one thing I would immediately institute the electronic ball/strike caller. As one comment already said, every umpire has their own strike zone and it can change within a game. Some umps have specific strike zones for specific players. Derek Jeter, for example, had one of the most generous strike zones I ever saw. I mean, really, would you allow an ump to call a runner safe if he were three feet off the bag? No, there are rigid rules for this. And the strike zone is clearly defined and should not be open to personal interpretation either.

Matt said...

I am in favor of everything you suggest except eliminating the shift. Hitters have to learn to hit the other way.

I would also eliminate the number of pitching changes per game to 4 or 5. Either that or lower the number of pitchers on a roster.

Paul Gottlieb said...

I strongly disagree about the shift. Mike Trout and Aaron Judge should just keep swinging away, but the lighter hitters will start exploiting the shift and hitting lots of singles soon. It just takes a while for new ideas to sink in.

And it would be better to deaden the ball instead of enlarging the parks. Anything that moves the fans farther way is probably not a good idea. Once you deaden the ball a bit, a lot of players will quit worrying about launch angle, and concentrate of hitting line drives

Baseball certainly has pace of play problems, but the real crisis this years is how few balls in play we get. Doubles and triples, diving catches and double plays are what make baseball exciting, not 12-pitch at bats that usually end in a walk or a strikeout

Anonymous said...

Could be an interesting take on "The Commish" if you were made commissioner.

I'd watch that. A fan gets put in charge of a sport.
cheers
Dave

Alan Gollom said...

Instead of eliminating the shift, how about teaching batters how to hit against the shift.

KLAC Guy said...

I like everything except the limit on fouling off pitches. There are already too many strikeouts and limiting the number of pitches that a hitter can foul off will increase that number.

Big Ray said...

I've given up on baseball. The game is too slow and analytics have made it too robotic. The announcers fill the time blathering on about launch angles, spin rates, exit velocities and other mind-numbing statistics. Defensive shifts that batters refuse to exploit. Advertisements on the pitching mound. Betting odds on some of the TV crawl lines. This old-timer hasn't adapted well to the new baseball.

I'll stick with hockey. That is until the announcers start talking about the coefficient of friction between the puck and the ice ...

By Ken Levine said...

Let me say this about all the foul balls. Good hitters can just protect the plate and foul off pitch after pitch until they get the one they like. They're purposely fouling them off. Fourteen foul balls does not add to the suspense of the game.

sanford said...

Ken said

Let me say this about all the foul balls. Good hitters can just protect the plate and foul off pitch after pitch until they get the one they like. They're purposely fouling them off. Fourteen foul balls does not add to the suspense of the game.

There aren't that many times when there are that many pitches fouled off. We went to the Cubs game today and there was one at bat that was over ten pitches. And it was not a very good hitter. It is part of the game. If these guys were such good hitter to foul off pitch after pitch then they should be able to hit to the opposite field once in a while to beat the shift or lay down a bunt. Of course these days most players can't bunt. We saw one lefty beat the shift today. And depending how the outfield was playing Rizzo I would say he beat that shift as well as hey hit a line drive to left center. The center fielder made a nice attempt but really wasn't that close. By the way you mentioned the pitching changes. I don't think you can do what Larussa and other managers did by bringing in a pitcher and then taking him out depending on which side of the plate the batter hits from. I think once the pitcher is announced he has to face 3 batters in a row.

Poochie said...

"today’s games are unwatchable due to the lack of offense"

A mere 10 second search on Baseball Reference shows that current era of baseball is the highest scoring it's been since the 1930's or just about a full century. But yea today's lack of offense is certainly a problem if we're going to change the facts and make up situations that don't exist. For the past 4 years you've opined about the guy in charge speaking lies and mistruths. And now you've spread your own and have about 50 something responses spreading this misinformation.

If you don't enjoy the current state of the game, that's your right. But don't make up facts not in existence to make your point. Be better.

Tom said...

I'm OK with unlimited foul balls; duels between pitchers and hitters are fun, for me anyway. I'm OK with keeping the shift; position all seven of your non-battery players on first base for all I care. (Outfield shifts are OK, why not infield?) Professional hitters should be able to adjust. Enforce the pitch clock that is already on the books. The three-batter minimum for relief pitchers is a good idea; extend it to the starting pitcher must face the entire batting order at least once (except for injury, obviously...eliminates "openers"). And to overcome part of the crazy advantages pitchers have over hitters nowadays, lower the mound a few inches, like they did after '68. I dislike the Three True Outcomes crap as much as anyone, but I'm not sure how to require pitchers to not go for strikeouts (mathematically the most efficient way of getting an out, which is the whole point of defense) or require hitters not to try to hit home runs (the most efficient way of scoring a run). The numbers don't lie: strikeouts and homers are the most direct ways to win a game, whether we get-off-my-lawn types like it or not. As some manager -- Earl Weaver? -- once said, "Kids play baseball. We are paid to win baseball games, and there is a difference."

DBA said...

Even three minutes is too long for challenges. They need to stop using normal video feeds and pony up for a hawkeye system like tennis. Push the button, the challenge plays itself and announces fair/foul, catch/no catch, safe/out. The end.

DBA said...

Also, to the "move back the fences" thing: Citi Field and Petco Park were both built with farther fences and they've since brought them in. More than once, I believe. So I'm not sure moving the fences would fly unless every stadium did it for the same season, and even then, those with no real place to move the fence would need to go higher, not farther. But when home runs decrease, people bitch about it and it gets undone.

Jahn Ghalt said...

(in case he's still paying attention)

One commenter stated:


why give pitchers free rides? Make them improve their hitting skills.

Elimating the DH suits me - and one hopes college baseball would follow suit (and go back to wood bats). The minor-leagues would be compelled to follow suit.

Have every team play six days a week. Monday would be an off day for ALL teams.

MLB teams DO play 6 days/week (always have) - and floating off-days gives options to the schedulers - though a few more non-makeup double headers would too.


The thing that sets baseball apart from all other major sports is the presence of the complete player.

In the NBA, if you can't play D, you can't stay. A few years back there was a serious dunking competition - with real judges and scoring.

Those guys had some incredible hops and skills - but none of them could make a living "in the pros" - makes you realize just HOW ELITE NBA players really are.


immediately institute the electronic ball/strike caller

I'm torn about this - but tend to agree some sort of trial should be implemented. A few of the Tennis Majors have done away with line judges (but not the currently under way Roland Garros). The players have no one to argue with.... well, they can still harass the umpire up in her chair.

Another commenter said:

Good hitters can just protect the plate and foul off pitch after pitch until they get the one they like. They're purposely fouling them off. Fourteen foul balls does not add to the suspense of the game.

It would be interesting to review the record on this. I suspect the un-suspenceful at-bats attract more attention and create a false impression.

Plus, good pitchers can throw unhittable pitches (the ones that start in but end up well out of the zone) - along with the classic fool the ump strikes - which start in the middle and sweep outside.

Mike Barer said...

I've heard you advocate on outlawing the shift in previous posts. I would disagree as I think the game needs more managerial strategy, not less.
That's why I hate the designated hitter. I think it's fine for the American League, where the goal is to bust the fences, but for the National League, I'd like to see bunting, pinch hitting, speed, and maybe a pitcher knocking one out of the park once in a while.
Back to the shift, I think once in a while, a good hitter, or even a bad one can work it to his advantage by hitting it to the other field.

ScarletNumber said...

@Jeff

You wouldn't have to draw a line from home through 2nd all the way to the centerfield wall. It would just be on the dirt from behind the pitcher's mound to the edge of the infield. As I envision it, the shortstop and thirdbaseman would have to have both feet on the dirt on their side of their infield, while the secondbaseman and firstbaseman would have to have both feet on the infield.

@Poochie

While you are correct in a literal sense, by "offense" people mean doubles and triples, not necessarily just runs scored. Modern baseball is defined by the Three True Outcomes (HR, BB, K), most of which are boring too watch when they happen too often, even if they lead to increased scoring.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Regards the shift vs. lefty hitters:

If somehow I had made it to The Show as a lefty singles hitter and I faced the shift - I'd check in with my manager and go over the times he would support a hard bunt to 3rd (a sure infield hit with a fielder in the 6-hole, no chance for the catcher, and a very tough out for most pitchers). Of course this "gives away" the extra base hit - but consider that all those bunts would add up to a near1.000 slugging percentage (and a near 2.000 OPS).

This seems especially effective with a runner on first (do they shift against lefty's in that circumstance?)

Even the occasional righty bunt to first vs. a shift strains the pitcher.

Jahn Ghalt said...

One more comment:

Pretty clever to cite Baseball Reference and then not actually check Baseball Reference.

I'm thankful anyway, since it's good to know that the NL (with no DH) DID have run-scoring "bumps" in 2019 & '20 with 4.78 and 4.71 runs/game and a valley in 2014 (3.95 R/G).

Compare with NL's "juicy" 5.00 R/G in 1999 & 2000 with all other years below 4.78 going back to 1925 with 5.06.

The AL is more "bumpy" - 4.88 R/G in 2019 - actually lower in 2020 than the NL (4.58), with "recent" peaks higher:

2007 - 4.90
2006 - 4.97
2004 - 5.01

More juice: every year, 1994-2000 ranging from 4.93 to 5.39

Why didn't NL's juice years yield more R/G? Maybe their pitchers were more juicy than the AL's???

Bob B. said...

MLB teams DO play 6 days/week (always have)

Totally disagree. There are many teams that play seven games a week. There were a few teams this week that only played five. A structured schedule would grarentee an off day and would stop these days were only three or four games are scheduled.

Brother Herbert said...

My irritations are more broadcast-oriented: First, telling us the estimated distance of a home run ball is fine but I really, really don't care about launch angle and exit velocity. Hey Google! I don't give two shits about your Analytics!

And can we please get rid of advertising on every square inch of ballpark space? Now they're supering brand names on the goddamn pitcher's mound. I was watching Ken Burns' BASEBALL recently and it was so refreshing to see old game footage with the area behind home plate completely devoid of website names and greenscreen ad banners.

sanford said...

I was watching the Cubs game yesterday. Anthony Rizzo had a 14 pitch at bat. He fouled off 10 pitches. On pitch 14 in to the bleachers. Despite that number of pitches the Cards threw 138 pitches. 4.05 pitches per batter. That does not seem unreasonable. So I say a big no to two fouls per batter. It is too bad that we don't have records of how many pitches were thrown in a game before 1988.

Mark F said...

Late to the blog but can’t agree on the shift. If you can’t hit it where they ain’t your don’t belong in the bigs.