While many changes to Major League Baseball are necessary for player safety, such as the plate collisions rule in the wake of Buster Posey’s season-ending injury, many of the new changes to baseball has myself and other fans shaking our fists at Commissioner Rob Manfred.
In recent years Major League Baseball has tried to, for lack of a better term, “spice up” baseball. Ballparks aren’t gathering the crowds like basketball stadiums do, and the World Series definitely doesn’t have the same power as the Super Bowl does. While to most fans this is a non-issue, Manfred and other higher-ups seem to think the sport is in great peril.
One of the things I have always loved about baseball is how it has no time limit. Most other sports have precise quarters or periods that they adhere to. While this can create exciting moments like buzzer-beating shots in basketball, I have never thought a clock is necessary in the ballpark.
Of course, Manfred and his team see this in a completely different light. In their point of view, people don’t want to watch long games; baseball is too boring because nothing is happening for most of play anyways, and so people want to look at a timer and know how much longer the game will last. So of course, they came up with the pitch clock.
This forces the pitcher to get the ball across the plate in a certain amount of time, instead of scuffing at the mound dirt or whatever else their windup requires. Granted, the pitch clock was implemented in the minors and while attending those games I haven’t noticed much of a difference, but it’s these kinds of creeping changes that make me worry about what they might scheme up next.
My family and I have always referred to extra innings as “bonus baseball.” When you buy a ticket you’re guaranteed nine innings of play, but if the game goes into extra innings that’s just more baseball to enjoy. This can suck for fans who need to get home and want to see the end of the game, but I believe it creates the same kind of excitement as those buzzer moments I mentioned previously.
I worry that Manfred might see these extra innings as a nuisance and try to abolish them. It would help networks since they wouldn’t have to push back and arrange other programming around a longer game.
While this might seem like a far-flung idea, with the recent proposal that the losing team can using whatever batting line-up they want in the ninth inning goes to show that messing with the foundation of baseball is not out of the question when trying to get ratings up.
For myself, I know that I will continue to watch baseball even if it is messed with a bit. However, too many changes might push myself, and other fans, towards other sports. That would completely undermine the effort to draw more fans to the sport, and bastardize America’s favorite pastime.