Since becoming commissioner of the MLB in 2015, Rob Manfred is making some... interesting decisions.
Some of these decisions seem like pretty reasonable requests, such as instant replay, which ensures that nobody loses a chance at history again, like Armando Galarraga in his bid for a perfect game that was blown by Jim Joyce's "safe" call for what would have been the 27th and final out.
Other new rules consist of the use of the DH in both leagues, expanded rosters, and MLB-partnered Independent baseball leagues.
In fact, most of the rules already in place at the Major League level are somewhat tepid. It's the rules that have been looming in the lower levels of Minor League Baseball that are nerve racking.
1. Pitch Clocks
There has been talks about pitch clocks for what seems several years now, and they are closer than you'd think. In fact, pitch clocks are already at the AAA level.
This may not seem like an egregious rule to people, but here's the problem...
Every elite athlete has routines. They do something or several things before the appearance that helps them mentally prepare for what's about to come. In baseball, both pitchers and hitters have pre-pitch routines. Some are long, some are short. Now, those will be rushed all to shave some seconds off of ball games and send people home earlier.
My opinion: Baseball is a slow-paced game. Rushing a hitter's routine is like rushing art. Certain player's have been immortalized by their signature pre-pitch routines. Routines help athlete's perform, and by putting them on a timer you're sacrificing quality of play to get home earlier.
Baseball is a thinking man's game that requires planning every pitch, and Rob Manfred wants to neglect the true fan in favor of the bored casual spectator who doesn't truly appreciate the subtle nuances of the game.
2. Moving Back Mounds
In 2019, the Atlantic League signed on with the MLB to become the first Independent ball league to be affiliated with Major League Baseball. This meant a couple things:
The MLB sent more scouting over to the league and provided more advertising.
The MLB was allowed to "test" new rules out in the Atlantic League to see how they affected the game
One of these was moving the mounds back two feet.
As a result, many players requested trades out of the league to other upper-tier independent ball leagues around the nation.
My opinion: Baseball is played at 60 feet 6 inches. It has been for over 130 years. If it's moved back another two feet, how do player's performances prior stack up to performances after? Are no-hitters considered a greater feat? Do future homerun records not count? With this potential rule change comes way too many variables in a game rooted in history.
3. Stealing First
On July 11, 2019, Tony Thomas became the first player ever in organized baseball to steal... first base. The base was stolen in - you guessed it - the Atlantic League.
Now this one seems like it's a ways away, but the fact is it was a legitimate rule for a while in a legitimate professional league.
My opinion: Why? Why fix what's not broken? There is nothing wrong with the rules of baseball. If people didn't like the rules, the sport would have died out long ago. Maybe it's not the sport that is the problem, but the dying attention span of the society we live in. I think it would do a lot of us some good to step away from technology for three hours and study the fine details of a perfectly imperfect game.
Sometimes, things don't need to be changed. Some of the recent changes in baseball have been great. The Nike "City Connect" jerseys are a fantastic way to keep the game "fresh" without changing rules or selling out to gain more fans. Promote fun, not nonsense, and the fans will come.