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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Replay, rosters and the nine rules that baseball needs to change - Tom Verducci - SI.com

Rules, rules, rules, rules, rules, rules, rules, rules, rules, rules, and more rules.

Think of baseball as a living thing, an organic garden. It still needs care and weeding and pruning to flourish. Baseball is overdue for some pruning—nothing too major, but changes to the rules of how the game is played to keep it going strong while still honoring its heritage.
When it comes to areas of improvement, I’ve come up with a starting nine: nine rules changes baseball should implement immediately. I have named each of the proposed rules in honor of the person most associated with the need for change.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 27, 2012 at 03:01 PM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rules

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   1. smileyy Posted: November 27, 2012 at 03:57 PM (#4310857)
#1-8 aren't bad. But I can't take seriously any suggestion that will take money out of baseball (#9).
   2. Xander Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:01 PM (#4310865)
#6 seems to be a really weird thing to pick on.
   3. smileyy Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4310871)
If the idea is that in-game decisions are limited to human observation and precomputed results, then yeah, a stopwatch seems out of place.
   4. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:06 PM (#4310875)
I liked 2 (Doug Melvin September Roster size), 3 (Barry Bonds body armor), 5 (Jorge Posada mound visits) and 8 (Sam Holbrook OF umps in post-season). The rest I don't agree with. I agree with templeusox that the Beltran rule seemed really odd.
   5. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:17 PM (#4310889)
I've come to detest the playoff system and am reassessing my relationship to the sport as a result. Verducci's channeling what I've written several times -- I hate the World Series as a mere tournament round.
   6. cmd600 Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:25 PM (#4310897)
How many balls did Bonds (or anyone else) take off their "body armor" that wouldn't have hit them anyway? It's not like these guys are going up with a shield. Something that takes more of the brunt of a 90+ mph thrown ball and less off your body is a good thing, not a bad one. We're not here to see who can play through the most forearm and elbow bruises.
   7. Randy Jones Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:27 PM (#4310900)
#2 I think is a good idea.
#3 might be ok.
#5, 6 and 8 I don't see them as really a big deal either way.
#4 Seems counterproductive.
#7 is a bad idea, the umps don't need more judgement calls to make. ####### Cowboy Joe already has enough opportunities to make the game all about him.
#1 should be done with an RFID chip or something similar in all MLB game balls. Allow precise tracking of the speed and position of the ball at all times. Make the data publicly available. Might finally get us reliable defensive stats.
#9 is a terrible idea based on horribly flawed logic. Basically, exactly what I would expect from Verducci.
   8. Tippecanoe Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:39 PM (#4310918)
I like 1, 2 and 4. I've always hated that running lane going to first base; it reminds of the silly football rules utilizing definitions like "outside the tackle box", "within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage", and similar.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4310925)
I like 1, 2 and 4.


I can give or take most of the rest, but I find 4 worthy of discussion. Based on Verducci's argument (particularly how it differs from the other bases), I'm open to the idea.
   10. villageidiom Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:17 PM (#4310957)
#3 is unnecessary. If the pitch is in the strike zone and the batter gets hit, it's a strike. If it's just outside the strike zone and the batter gets hit, then it's a HBP. Armor or not.

Perhaps the league should only allow armor for a short period after recovery from an DL-inducing injury, and only to protect against recurrence of that injury. That way you don't have players wearing armor as a preventive measure, allowing them to take greater risk than they would armorless.

#4 bad. #6 pointless. #9 pointless.

#5 like.

#8 If you want an improvement, station the outfield umpires at the foul poles. They don't need to be so close to the infield. They can make boundary calls, foul/HR calls at the pole, and with the IF umpires they can make fair/foul calls in front of them. Keep them out of infield-fly calls entirely.

#2 I still advocate the 40-man game roster, but in April instead of September. Make September just like August.

That aside, if you want to encourage teams to have uniform rosters in September, then simply mandate that for that month the 40-man roster IS the active roster. If a team wants to suppress service time or save a penny on salary by not calling up players, they have to leave those players off the 40-man roster. Otherwise they will accrue service time and collect MLB-scale salary whether they're in the dugout or not.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:20 PM (#4310958)
In glancing at the comments on the original article, I continue to be amazed and confounded by the number of people dragging out the "human element = unmitigated good" argument against replay. How could it possibly be a feature, rather than a bug, when calls are made incorrectly?
   12. Robinson Cano Plate Like Home Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:27 PM (#4310964)
How can replay work for trapped balls?
   13. esseff Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4310967)
The Cardinals won several close and long games down the stretch because manager Tony La Russa squeezed the most out of expanded rosters. Hello, Adron Chambers.


Just how small does he want rosters? I ask because Chambers was on the 25-man in the past two postseasons.
   14. Bourbon Samurai Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:58 PM (#4310994)
1. Please god no NFL style replay. if you can find a way to do it instantly, as I suppose you could on fair/foul calls, fine. But I hate the idea of NFL style waiting around on trapped ball calls. And absolutely not on safe/out calls.
2. I like seeing all the random players.
3. Eh, whatever. I prefer enforcing the idea that a ball that hits you in the strike zone is a strike.
4. Don't see the point of this.
5. not a bad idea.
6. what? why? who cares?
7. no
8. They don't seem to be adding anything, but agree with the idea above to put them at the foul poles.
9. Terrible.
   15. bunyon Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:15 PM (#4311005)
#3 is unnecessary. If the pitch is in the strike zone and the batter gets hit, it's a strike.

They're also supposed to try to get out of the way. Something called as often as the high strike. The armor lets the batter stay in.
   16. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:22 PM (#4311008)
They're also supposed to try to get out of the way.


I'd get rid of that rule entirely. If the ball hits you and you're in the batter's box, you take your base. If it hits you outside the batter's box and not over the plate, it's a ball (though I wouldn't be opposed if this was ruled an automatic strike). Over the plate (any height) and it's a strike.

   17. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:51 PM (#4311024)
I've come to detest the playoff system and am reassessing my relationship to the sport as a result. Verducci's channeling what I've written several times -- I hate the World Series as a mere tournament round.


I am always right.
   18. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4311028)
I thought the base running thing at 1B was stupid. "How does first differ from other bags?" Well, you can run through it for one. That's a pretty big difference. I guess you can run through home plate too, but it's not exactly the same. Because you can run directly through and past the bag at first it is the only bag where a runner can and will be at full speed as he crosses. It's the only bag where you could really go all out linebacker on a defender. It's the only bag where you can run in a straight line to the bag at all. (If you're running to any of the other bases, you're almost certainly running a parabolic arc.)
   19. shoewizard Posted: November 27, 2012 at 07:19 PM (#4311041)
This article is SO 1969
   20. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: November 27, 2012 at 07:54 PM (#4311061)
I love one of his reasons for #9:

reduce viewer playoff fatigue
   21. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 08:08 PM (#4311066)
Viewer playoff fatigue is very real.
   22. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: November 27, 2012 at 08:27 PM (#4311074)
Please god no NFL style replay. if you can find a way to do it instantly, as I suppose you could on fair/foul calls, fine. But I hate the idea of NFL style waiting around...

This 1,000 times. I'm a big fan of using technology to enforce rules, because the rules define fair play between two sets of athletes. So if they could put a sensor in the ball to tell fair/foul instantly without affecting the phyics, go for it. Automate the balls and strikes already. And implement replay with a guy in the booth who gets 15 seconds and radios down a decision.
   23. Srul Itza Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:37 PM (#4311089)
It's the only bag where you can run in a straight line to the bag at all


Maybe for a leftie. For a right hander, in order to get into the "lane", as some point, you have to make a turn or veer. They seemed to do alright without that lane for a long time, so I an not sure what it adds.

Taking them in order:

1. Replay: Adding technology similar to that used in tennis to quickly get foul or fair makes some sense, perhaps. But with the examples given, it was not really that close; the umpires so totally blew the call, that current technology would suffice. All of the rest of the replay issues have been argued here ad infinitum. Eventually, baseball is going to have more replay; anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves. These things only grow over time, they don't get cut back. If we are going to be stuck with it, I favor the 5th umpire system, no "coaches challenges" and a strict time limit. Of course, we will probably get something much worse.

2. Roster Size has also been argued here over and over. It invokes a combination of issues regarding aesthetics, competitive fairness (including different resources), the wear and tear of the long season, and the chance for teams who are out of it, to see what might be available on the farm. I like the expanded rosters in September, but mostly because I am used to it, and I like the idea of seeing the better players from the farm and giving others a chance at a "cup of coffee" in the bigs that they may not otherwise see. As I say, I've been living with the consequences of the potential competitive imbalance for many years, so it doesn't bother me that much. Also, with every team now carrying so many pitchers, it gives me a chance to see a little more of the platooning and situational substitution I remember. Now if they wanted to limit it a bit by freezing the number of pitchers available for a game, and/or limiting the number of active players available for the game to 25-30, I would not be opposed.

3. Body Armor -- yet another issue we've debated countless times. My preference is to limit it to recovering injuries, and only for as long as necessary, so somebody isn't wearing it for half their career. It is not that it is unfair to allow them to bounce one off the armor and then take first base; it is that it changes the balance of power/fear for the hitter, allowing him to stand in. We've pretty much taken the inside part of the plate away from pitchers these days, even without the armor. So limit the use to what is absolutely medically necessary, and then call the game the way it is supposed to (fat chance) with no base awarded if you don't actually try t get out of the way.

4. 45 Foot running lane. I dislike the aesthetics -- we don't need any more lines on the field; it's baseball, not basketball. We did all right without it.

5. Visits to the mound. If it speeds up the game, limiting catcher-pitcher visits would be okay, but two per inning is way too small. You want the pitcher and catcher always on the same page, especially if you are the home plate umpire. There is a line that can be drawn here, maybe one or two per at bat, or just umpire's discretion to break it up. But I absolutely HATE any rule change where the penalty is calling a ball. You see that brought up all too often, and it is a change I am opposed to.

6. Stopwatches -- this is a new one to me. So if the first base coach is not armed with a stop watch, what changes? Somebody in the dug out or in the stands could do the same thing and relay the information. Hell, you get it reported in the telecast of some games, how quick the pitcher is to home. More and more information of this nature is becoming available, and it will be transferred to the baserunner somehow. Taking it away from the first base coach wouldn't seem to solve anything. Hey, at least it gives them something to do.

7. Flying Bat Rule -- Disagree. I have seen bats let loose on the field since I started watching. If it is happening more often now, it is not that huge a difference. IT is an occupational hazard. Now this is the first time I remember hearing that "baseball instituted standards regarding the size and weight of bats", but if it is in fact making it less common, that makes even less of a reason for a new rule.

8. Outfield umpires -- seems like a featherbedding thing to me. We don't need them in the regular season, so why do we need them now? How many times have they made a call which the other umpires would not have? Yeah, they can go.

9. Fewer playoff games -- No. More Baseball, Good. Less Baseball, Bad.
   24. Poster Nutbag Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:58 PM (#4311129)
Re: Posada Rule

Often, a catcher goes out to "talk" to a pitcher if the umpire/batter gets nailed by a foul ball or something similar. One of the more gentlemanly and sportsmanlike aspects of the game left. This rule would eliminate that entirely. Then, who gets assessed the "penalty" for taking too long while trying to recover for a brief moment?

(Just playing Devil's Advocate and genuinely curious)
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: November 27, 2012 at 11:48 PM (#4311144)
It's the only bag where you can run in a straight line to the bag at all. (If you're running to any of the other bases, you're almost certainly running a parabolic arc.)


On almost any play that involves an infield throw to another bag, the baserunner will be running a straight line to there (first to second or second to third). The parabolic arc runs would typically involve throws from the outfield, and almost never where the runner is in a direct line with the thrower.

   26. OCF Posted: November 28, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4311152)
I'd get rid of that rule entirely. If the ball hits you and you're in the batter's box, you take your base. If it hits you outside the batter's box and not over the plate, it's a ball (though I wouldn't be opposed if this was ruled an automatic strike). Over the plate (any height) and it's a strike.

I'd actually go further than that, although in practice, this shouldn't be implemented until you have completely roboticized the calling of balls and strikes and taken the plate ump out of that business. Any ball far enough inside (something like over the batter's box, or at least 5 inches into the batter's box - this part needs fine tuning) is charged as an HBP whether that batter is hit or not. And if it's inside but not that far inside, it's a just a ball, whether the batter is hit or not. And a ball in the strike zone is a strike. Make an exception for being hit in the head or neck - that's always an HBP no matter where the head was. No boundary on the other side either - throwing it behind a batter is an HBP. Note that this gives the batter a very strong incentive to get out of the way, since it hurts less that way.

They're also supposed to try to get out of the way. Something called as often as the high strike.

Famous historical exception from 1968. Don Drysdale working on a potential consecutive scoreless inning streak. Dick Dietz. Look it up.
   27. Swedish Chef Posted: November 28, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4311432)
I just had an idea for the playoffs. Have the four teams that qualify for the playoffs in each league play an 18-game league (throw in a couple of doubleheaders to keep the length the same as LDS+LCS has now) to determine the league champ and then do the World Series as usual.
   28. OsunaSakata Posted: November 28, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4311469)
I just had an idea for the playoffs. Have the four teams that qualify for the playoffs in each league play an 18-game league (throw in a couple of doubleheaders to keep the length the same as LDS+LCS has now) to determine the league champ and then do the World Series as usual.


No. A mathematically eliminated team won't care and neither will the audience. I'd rather have a triple elimination (three losses before you're out) tournament at the same stadium, or the same metro area. But the current system is much better than a league.
   29. Lassus Posted: November 28, 2012 at 12:37 PM (#4311485)
I continue to be amazed and confounded by the number of people dragging out the "human element = unmitigated good"

"Human element =/= unmitigated horror" is not the same argument as "human element = unmitigated good".

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