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MLB RULES CHANGES

Over the last several years major league baseball has instituted several rules changes that have been primarily instituted to speed up the game. I have often wondered about the wisdom of such changes primarily because I don’t ever recall sitting in a ballpark thinking “boy I hope this game gets over soon so I can go home.”

But I get that some games do go a little longer than need be, so I welcome some of the changes. Yesterday I read about a series of proposals to change the rules. A couple of them stood out and I would like to take a look at them.

The first involves the use of the designated hitter. Currently it is used in the American League but not in the National League. I think it is a great idea to have both leagues use the same rule. Whether you are for the DH or against it, we can all agree that it should be the same in both leagues. Since it would be impossible to get rid of it in the AL, it is more likely the NL will have to give in and start using it. I suppose this rule is more about conformity than time saving, but it will also speed up the game.

Some baseball purists will cry foul on this issue, but I like it.

The other proposed change involves pitching changes. Every team has several situational relievers that frequently come in to face one batter. Three pitching changes in four batters has become somewhat commonplace and does indeed slow down the game. The proposal to have a pitcher face a minimum of three batters seems a bit drastic to me. Several unintended consequences could be a result of this proposal and the first one that comes to mind to me is the fake injury.

We’ve seen defensive players in football go down like they were shot with no one around them when the opponent is using a no-huddle offense and the defense needs a breather. Would a relief pitcher suddenly grab his elbow so the manager could make a change? I think it could happen.

Another proposal that might be a better way of avoiding mass pitching changes is to limit the number of pitchers on a staff. I guess you can’t keep making changes if you have no one left in the bullpen.

Finally I might suggest that tampering too much with the game might defeat the purpose. If the idea is to bring new young fans into the game, you might just send some existing ones to the exits.

The view from my seat suggests that baseball should be careful about changing its product. The game has been around for a long time and I don’t think massive rules changes are needed to insure it stays around.

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