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New Game, Same Name

I have written in this space before about my affinity for new thoughts and ideas. Simply keeping with the old way of doing things only keeps us in old ways of thinking. Baseball is only a game and therefore the people who run it should be willing to make updates in to remain entertaining and, by extension, relevant. New rules will be in place which can drastically change how the game is experienced. The rule change which will have the largest impact will be the rules concerning time. The 15-second and 20-second pitch clocks are revolutionary for the game. Baseball has been unique among the American sports because it has always been the one without a clock. This fact is a large part of the reason the popularity of the sport has waned through the years. The slower pace of baseball makes going to game a great date idea (trust me), but it can kill the television or streaming experience. The time in between pitches means there is plenty of time to get to know your company at the ballpark, but it can cause the doom scrolling through social media when at home. Pitchers will have to deliver the ball with 15 seconds with the bases empty and within 20 seconds with runners on base. Pitchers a limited to two step off/pick off attempts per plate appearance. Batters must be in the batter’s box and ready to hit with 8 seconds remaining on the clock. They are allowed to request time out only once during the at-bat. These rules will speed up the pace of action considerably. Watching pitchers step off the rubber and batters endlessly adjusting their batting gloves is a time waster no one needs. An added benefit of the pitch clock will be the pitch velocities are going to trend down, at least in the short-term, as pitchers adjust to the new rules placed upon them. Not that he works particularly slowly, but I am curious to see how Jacob deGrom’s velocity holds up when having to work more quickly. Those random relievers who throw 100 will become more rare. I am of the opinion the hitters will be given more than a fighting chance now. The component of the time limitations the old baseball fans will unwittingly come to love will be the limits on pick off attempts. This will bring the stolen base and the overall running game into fashion. Cedric Mullins II leads the majors in steals with 31. This is barely one stolen base per week.  For guys like Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman in their primes, his total would be equivalent to a mediocre first half. Catchers who can’t really throw and pitchers who are slow to deliver the ball will really become problematic starting next year. The increasing emphasis on the running game will provide teams more ways to score. The 1980’s St. Louis Cardinals put pressure on their opponents with the constant threat of motion. In 1985 they had Tom Herr drive in 110 runs while hitting only 8 home runs. That is a drastically different style of offense. I am looking forward to these changes in offensive philosophy because the game is better when there multiple ways to win. Home runs are great, but they shouldn’t be just about the only tool in an offensive tool kit.

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