Time’s Up!

I realize Baseball isn’t some people’s “cup of tea,” but bear with me as I get some things off my mind regarding some of the older changes to the game, some newer changes to the game and some proposed changes and thoughts of baseball officials which might make the game even more of what it shouldn’t be. I’ll be fast because I’m on the clock.

First, I’m NOT a fan of the designated hitter. I’m especially not in favor of it used in one league and not the other, especially with wild card playoff teams now part of post season play. With team schedules now including Interleague play, another of my non-favorite changes to the game (I think the World Series is much more exciting played by two teams that haven’t played each other during that season), the outcome of games can be affected by teams Interleague playing later in the season.

Say the A’s, Rays, Braves and Marlins are fighting for the last AL and NL Wild Card playoff spots. The A’s have a three game series in Atlanta, while the Rays are home against Miami. The A’s have to play where the DH is non-existent, while the Rays get to play at home and use the DH. Meanwhile, the Braves have to have their pitchers bat, while the Marlins get to use the DH. Clearly in both series, the Rays and Marlins have advantages over the A’s and Braves.

I realize some will argue it evens out over the entire season, but pressures of playoff opportunities are much greater in the later stages of a long season than they are in April or May. So, Interleague games at the end of the season can, and do, make a difference because of the DH rule.

Ask Tiger fans about a late ’16 season series in Atlanta. They were without DH Victor Martinez, one of the best clutch hitters in the AL, for a three game series with a great shot at the playoffs, but lost two of three, one by two runs and one by a run. They finished a game out of the playoffs. AL Wild Card Baltimore’s last road Interleague Series was in mid-August, so they played the last six weeks with the advantage of their DH. Toronto, the other ’16 Wild Card team, played their last road Interleague Series in Mid-July, so they had their DH for the last 10 weeks of the season.

Safe to say, I’m NOT a fan of the Designated Hitter or Interleague Play. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure I’d like the Wild Card or second Wild Card changes in MLB, but they’ve added more excitement and purpose to the end of seasons, and I like them very much. But now onto the recent changes to the game I love so much.

A couple seasons ago, MLB instituted clocks to limit time between innings for pitchers to warm up, hoping to speed up the game because fans were complaining games were too long. I don’t understand their complaints. If you’re attending a game, you should want to savor the experience as long as it lasts. It was the only sport without time restrictions, until this clock was put in MLB Ballparks. My question to the complainers is, what’s your hurry? (I also wonder why some people even attend games when they sit in front of people getting up during play, getting angry when people ask them to sit down, conduct corporate business, let their kids get up and down, and not even watch a pitch in the game. Trust me, I’ve seen/encountered many who fit this description. At the Indians Home Opener this season, there was a group of seven in front of us who were quite inebriated when they finally got into their seats and they were up and down, one of the women falling on her behind as she made one of her trips down, I’m assuming to the restroom, whereby the rest of her party thought it to be quite funny. For their time in their seats, I didn’t hear them say anything about the game. The one who fell did wave a pompom on a stick a few times, but didn’t look like she had a clue to what was going on when she did it.) Anyway, I digress … back to the changes …

MLB’s now gone to Instant Replay, which has shown some plays to be incorrect, but many more proven to be correct by the umpires, and to their credit, they do it without slow motion, blow-up, freeze-frame cameras. Problem with this was that managers were taking “too much time” to decide to challenge, and replay officials taking “too much time” to uphold or reverse the challenged calls. MLB’s solution … more clocks limiting managers to 30 seconds to make up their minds, and replay officials two minutes to make their decision. I’ve already seen a call take the two minutes to decide, then the other team asked for a rule check on the same play whereby review was consulted again and because the second part was not considered a challenged play, the discussion resulted in a more than five minute lapse in play on what was supposed to be two minutes away from play. And last year time limits were imposed on visits to the mound, supposed to be 30 seconds from the time a coach comes out of the dugout until the time he leaves the mound. Again in the Tribe opener, one manager came to the mound and about five seconds after 30 seconds expired, the umpire got to the mound whereby the manager stayed there at least another 20 seconds. Suggestion, if you enact a rule, enforce the rule. Start dishing out punishments for not adhering to the rules.

Another time saving measure this year, is the automatic intentional walk, where the four pitches don’t have to be thrown, a manager can just request that players be put on base and the player is sent to first. Indians’ Jason Kipnis said he’s scored from third twice on wild pitches thrown as part of intentional walks. Also, anyone remember Oakland’s Rollie Fingers duping Hall of Famer Johnny Bench on the last pitch of a supposed intentional walk? As a high school softball coach, I have to teach pitchers to throw the four pitches of intentional walks, yet Major League Baseball is trying to save about 15 seconds per intentional walk.

In the minors, MLB is experimenting putting a runner at second base starting extra innings to try and speed up tie games, which IS being done in high school softball (another rule I find ridiculous). Again, WHAT’S EVERYONE’S HURRY?

The new commissioner of Major League Baseball now says he wants to limit the number of pitching changes in a game. What’s next, eliminating throws to bases with runners on? How about four fouls and you’re out? How about if wearing batting gloves, elbow protectors or batting shin protectors, you have to wear them on the bases? And catchers have to bat and run with their gear on? Won’t that save time too? Do I sound ridiculous? I believe I’m being as ridiculous as I think are these time saving measures in MLB.

No one seems to complain about the length of NFL games, especially with all the TV timeouts and the time outs after PATs or FGs, then they come back for an almost certain touchback followed by another five commercials.

If people pay lots to go to plays, concerts, movies, sporting events, why are checking their watches? What’s everyone’s hurry? Leave Baseball alone, its fine without time saving. And on that note, my time’s up on this matter, so I’ll sign off for this week. Thanks for listening.

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