A couple of days ago, some major news broke: Major League Baseball was looking to implement two major rule changes. The proposed changes are as follows:
- In order to speed up extra innings games, all extra innings will start with a runner on second base. Baseball is already planning to implement this change in rookie-level ball next year as a trial run.
- A pair of strike zone changes. First of all, the league wants to raise the lower part of the strike zone to the top of the hitter’s knees. Secondly, pitchers will no longer be required to throw four pitches on an intentional walk.
The rules still have to be approved by the Players’ Union. Chances of that happening aren’t stellar, given what we’ve already seen. So let’s take a look at what everyone had to say about the possible changes.
Let’s start with the rule that proposes raising the strike zone slightly above the kneecap. Unsurprisingly, most people see this as a direct move to benefit hitters, and as Tigers fans pointed out, it could impact different pitching staffs in different ways.
Craig Edwards discusses how the strike zone has changed in recent years, and which pitchers will struggle the most with a raised strike zone.
Reds CEO Bob Castellini is one supporter of the new strike zone.
“Certainly one of the ways that the game would be hastened along by three or four minutes would be to shorten the strike zone as far as we feel like we can, and I think we’re trying to do that.” - Bob Castellini
Now let’s take a look at the new intentional walk policy.
Marc Lancaster wrote a quick recap of the new strike zone rules with an interesting look at how impactful the new intentional walk rule would be.
ESPN notes that pitchers issued 932 intentional walks last season, or just one every 5.2 games. But having a batter simply take his base after the decision to issue an intentional walk is made certainly would speed up the process a bit.
Some fans still want teams to be required to execute the intentional walk.
why the MLB shouldn't eliminate the 4 ball intentional walk rule exhibit A pic.twitter.com/8EAKmYP07p— John (@Friar_Faithful) February 6, 2017
The most controversial of the new rules seems to be putting a runner on second to start each inning after the 9th.
Kristie Ackert wrote a piece about why the MLB shouldn’t undergo these rule changes.
Look, baseball is certainly right to look at ways to improve the pace of the game, but completely changing the rules of the game and the season in clutch time is not the answer. It can address the pace of play by better enforcing the rules of keeping hitters in the batter’s box, keeping pitchers on pace, particularly relievers in later innings — or, God forbid, cut down on the length of commercial breaks.
Fans and players expressed their concern with the new rules as well.
The runner-on-2nd/extra innings idea is THE DUMBEST THING EVER. What is this, Tee-Ball? I'm deeply concerned that MLB is becoming soft.— Zack Hample (@zack_hample) February 9, 2017
I don't really mind most of MLB's potential rule changes but this is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. https://t.co/1WDyWF7qfv— OverTheMonster (@OverTheMonster) February 9, 2017
Some people have been more optimistic about the proposition, including former manager Joe Torre.
Let’s see what it looks like. It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch. As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time.
Starting with a runner on 2b in extra innings is stupid, I agree. But I'm guessing not many who complain have been to a rookie ball game...— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) February 9, 2017
Here’s an interesting take on the need for improving the pace of play in the first place.
11 minutes that the ball is in play compared to 18 in the MLB but the NFL is more popular. Pace of play isn't the problem pic.twitter.com/8SqS0iwJHF— World Champ Cubbies (@CubbiesFam) February 8, 2017
It seems like most people are against these changes. What do you think? Is there a chance this might be for the best?