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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Rob Manfred has a vision to improve baseball and it’s more radical than you think

Maybe the major leagues can borrow from the more joyous fan experiences in Asia and Latin America, even at the risk of adding five minutes to the game. Maybe television broadcasts can shorten commercial breaks by adding ads to a corner of the screen during play. And, yes, maybe the players and coaches could cut back on the in-game caucuses.

“The stuff where nothing is going on – Yadi Molina is making his 93rd trip to the mound, or whoever the catcher is, I don’t mean to pick out a guy – dead time is an issue,” Manfred said.

That might be the relatively easy part of the change Manfred seeks. The much more challenging part involves accelerating action within the game itself, and the trial balloons have included restrictions on defensive shifts, altering the strike zone and limiting the use of relief pitchers.

Should Manfred really be legislating strategy? Teams now pay millions of dollars to baseball operations executives to devise clever and efficient ways to win. If a team believes its best chance to win includes a lineup of walk-prone, strikeout-prone sluggers that rarely put the ball in play, and an eight-man bullpen that makes four or five pitching changes per game a common occurrence, should that not be the team’s decision?

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:23 PM | 80 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: pace of play, rob manfred

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   1. Batman Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:31 PM (#5438925)
1. Steroids everywhere
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:33 PM (#5438926)
Should Manfred really be legislating strategy?

Strategy is a response to the rules. He should certainly be changing the rules if doing so results in a more action-package, fast-paced, interesting game.

Teams now pay millions of dollars to baseball operations executives to devise clever and efficient ways to win. If a team believes its best chance to win includes a lineup of walk-prone, strikeout-prone sluggers that rarely put the ball in play, and an eight-man bullpen that makes four or five pitching changes per game a common occurrence, should that not be the team’s decision?

No. The league is completely within its rights, and doing its job when they set the rules such that, boring strategies are no longer effective.

No team has a right to have a certain strategy stay effective for all time. If those "strategists" are worth their millions, they'll adapt to the new rules.
   3. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:38 PM (#5438927)
The much more challenging part involves accelerating action within the game itself, and the trial balloons have included restrictions on defensive shifts, altering the strike zone and limiting the use of relief pitchers.


Restricting the defensive shift will not result in shorter games. If anything it will make them longer. Ignoring that, I think Manfred is turning into kind of a terrible Commish.
   4. Blanks for Nothing, Larvell Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:38 PM (#5438928)
Should Manfred really be legislating strategy? Teams now pay millions of dollars to baseball operations executives to devise clever and efficient ways to win. If a team believes its best chance to win includes a lineup of walk-prone, strikeout-prone sluggers that rarely put the ball in play, and an eight-man bullpen that makes four or five pitching changes per game a common occurrence, should that not be the team’s decision?


No.

Next.

And Manfred is definitely in tune with the problem if he's sharp enough to cite the Dead Ball Era of pro football. The parallels are great between then and the current era of baseball.
   5. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:41 PM (#5438931)
From TFA:

For instance, Clark said, in an era where players throw harder than ever, would it make sense that a pitcher throwing at 100 mph might need more recovery time between pitches than one throwing at 90 mph? He would prefer that owners and players obtain and explore such data before rushing to adopt a pitch clock.


which is an argument that I hadn't heard before. I guess it's certainly possible that this could be the case, but I'd be surprised if the differences were more than a second or two at most.

-- MWE
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:43 PM (#5438933)
For instance, Clark said, in an era where players throw harder than ever, would it make sense that a pitcher throwing at 100 mph might need more recovery time between pitches than one throwing at 90 mph? He would prefer that owners and players obtain and explore such data before rushing to adopt a pitch clock.


No. More pitchers throwing 100 MPH is a BAD thing. Leads to more strikeouts and a less interesting came.

If less recovery time lowered velocity that would be a positive.
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:43 PM (#5438935)
“The stuff where nothing is going on – Yadi Molina is making his 93rd trip to the mound, or whoever the catcher is, I don’t mean to pick out a guy – dead time is an issue,” Manfred said.


Fix that Bobby. If that doesn't solve whatever ails the sport, then you can start exploring your more boneheaded instincts.

   8. Blanks for Nothing, Larvell Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:47 PM (#5438938)
No. More pitchers throwing 100 MPH is a BAD thing. Leads to more strikeouts and a less interesting came.

If less recovery time lowered velocity that would be a positive.


It's a dumb argument anyway, one that's just being made up because people are starting to realize Manfred is actually going to change things.

The game as it stands now is an aesthetic disaster, worse than 1973-77 in the NFL when no one threw the ball and the offenses were all bland and boring. (*) And almost unbelievably, it's actually getting worse with replays and even more anonymous relievers and longer games. Which is why the fanbase skews so old and so white. No business would ever sit silently while its future customer base turned away to this degree.

(*) And of course in that era you had the same football "traditionalists" that you have with baseball in 2017, who thought the forward pass was for sissies and such and that being able to run the football was what really separated the men from the boys. Today's baseball traditionalists are very much in that same spirit.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:48 PM (#5438940)
For instance, Clark said, in an era where players throw harder than ever, would it make sense that a pitcher throwing at 100 mph might need more recovery time between pitches than one throwing at 90 mph? He would prefer that owners and players obtain and explore such data before rushing to adopt a pitch clock.


This kind of assumes that the guy throwing 90 isn't already throwing his hardest. Just because a guy is capable of throwing 100 MPH doesn't mean that's more individual effort than the guy throwing 90 - it probably just means he's got more giddy-up on his fastball to begin with.

If I throw my absolute hardest, it still ain't getting much beyond 60 MPH, if that. But why would we assume my recovery time for throwing my hardest again would be shorter than Aroldis Chapman's? He throws 105 because his arm allows him to, not because he tries harder.

   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:51 PM (#5438945)
It's a dumb argument anyway, one that's just being made up because people are starting to realize Manfred is actually going to change things.

From your mouth to God's ears.
   11. Ithaca2323 Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:54 PM (#5438949)
Strategy is a response to the rules. He should certainly be changing the rules if doing so results in a more action-package, fast-paced, interesting game.


I agree with this. See the NBA and Hack-a-Shaq.
   12. John Northey Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:55 PM (#5438950)
No question in my mind cutting back on the time between pitches is where you have the biggest potential gains in pace for the game. No more walking off the mound for pitchers - automatic ball call if he steps on the grass unless he is being pulled. Automatic strike if the batter leaves the dirt area around the plate outside of when he runs and the ball goes foul. There are 2 easy ways to speed things up. In inning pitching changes result in a ball added to the count of the next hitter/current hitter would also help. If a pitcher has seen only one batter and is pulled then the next hitter gets to start 2-0. Bet we'd see a LOT fewer pitching changes then. Change before the inning starts and no cost.
   13. Astroenteritis Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:58 PM (#5438953)
The idea that adding more offense makes any sport more exciting is fundamentally flawed. More offense makes for less compelling games. Maybe fans really would rather see high scoring blowouts, I don't know. All I know I spend more time watching soccer now than any other sport, and the fact that a goal almost always has significant meaning is part of the appeal, and the ongoing tension. Another home run in an 11-4 game isn't too exciting. I know I'm in the minority, but baseball at the height of the steroid era was painful to watch.
   14. Brian C Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:02 PM (#5438958)
And of course in that era you had the same football "traditionalists" that you have with baseball in 2017, who thought the forward pass was for sissies and such and that being able to run the football was what really separated the men from the boys. Today's baseball traditionalists are very much in that same spirit.

This is really dumb, since the people you're labeling as "traditionalists" are the ones that want teams to be able to innovate strategies as they see fit, and the people trying to make the rules changes you're advocating for are the ones trying to get baseball back to the way it used to be, before all these crazy changes.

Other than that, your analysis is airtight, bro.
   15. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:04 PM (#5438960)
For instance, Clark said, in an era where players throw harder than ever, would it make sense that a pitcher throwing at 100 mph might need more recovery time between pitches than one throwing at 90 mph?


Why should we care? Outfielders would be better prepared to sprint after balls in the gap if they got five-minute breaks between hitters to catch their breath. But it would be awfully dumb to give them that.
   16. Blanks for Nothing, Larvell Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:06 PM (#5438962)
The main "news" from TFA is where Manfred blames himself for making it seem like pace is his only concern. Pretty clear that he really, really wants to have rules altering the unlimited use of relievers but unfortunately still unclear whether he'll actually enact them. Hopefully, he will.

The sport has become a two-act presentation, one where the starting pitcher is still in -- which is still tolerable stuff, though highly imperfect -- and the other when the bullpens take over, which is a multi-dimensional nightmare.
   17. BDC Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:07 PM (#5438963)
In some other threads we've wondered about increasing the pitching distance. This was a regular adjustment until 1893 and stopped then for all time. Yet if the game is being dominated by hard-throwing pitchers (and consequent offensive strategy and tactics), then maybe the time has come to adjust again.

(I wonder this about softball, too, which is now dominated by pitchers who prevent women from making effective contact with the ball. But do they have to play on those miniature diamonds?)

I am not advocating changing the pitching distance, just thinking aloud. It's hard to study practically because it messes with a pitcher's motion and his entire training. You can't just introduce it in a single minor league somewhere for a test run.
   18. villageidiom Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:08 PM (#5438965)
And almost unbelievably, it's actually getting worse with replays and even more anonymous relievers and longer games. Which is why the fanbase skews so old and so white.
It's almost as though you're saying minorities have dysfunctionally short attention spans.
   19. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:08 PM (#5438966)
Oh good, we haven't talked about this before. I look forward to new and exciting suggestions and opinions.
   20. homerwannabee Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:08 PM (#5438967)
Radical! Like totally tubular!
   21. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:09 PM (#5438968)
What about...and just hear me out before you say no...Spider Man logos on the bases. It's a win-win-win. MLB get's to look all hip and rad with the kids, african-american players are given a link to children (through the comic books!) so they can spread baseball to this rapidly failing segment of the population, and MORE MONEY FOR THE OWNERS! Yay!
   22. Blanks for Nothing, Larvell Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:09 PM (#5438969)
--
   23. Blanks for Nothing, Larvell Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:10 PM (#5438970)
It's almost as though you're saying minorities have dysfunctionally short attention spans.


It's literally nothing like that.
   24. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:11 PM (#5438975)
The idea that adding more offense makes any sport more exciting is fundamentally flawed. More offense makes for less compelling games. Maybe fans really would rather see high scoring blowouts, I don't know. All I know I spend more time watching soccer now than any other sport, and the fact that a goal almost always has significant meaning is part of the appeal, and the ongoing tension. Another home run in an 11-4 game isn't too exciting. I know I'm in the minority, but baseball at the height of the steroid era was painful to watch.

What makes baseball interesting is the radically different possibilities of outcome. One game could be a 1-0 shutout, and the next game a 9-7 seesaw affair. When rules are changed to artificially produce either low scoring or high scoring games, that simply reduces those possibilities. Given the hints I've seen Manfred throw out up to now, from that farcical extra innings proposal to thinking about outlawing defensive shifts, the best thing he could do for baseball is to quit before he really screws up the game in a serious way
   25. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:16 PM (#5438983)
"Face it Fry: Baseball was as boring as Mom and apple pie. That's why they jazzed it up."
―Leela

"Boring! Baseball wasn't.. Hm. So they finally jazzed it up?"

―Fry


What baseball needs is MULTIBALL!
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:25 PM (#5438995)
What makes baseball interesting is the radically different possibilities of outcome. One game could be a 1-0 shutout, and the next game a 9-7 seesaw affair. When rules are changed to artificially produce either low scoring or high scoring games, that simply reduces those possibilities. Given the hints I've seen Manfred throw out up to now, from that farcical extra innings proposal to thinking about outlawing defensive shifts, the best thing he could do for baseball is to quit before he really screws up the game in a serious way


I agree with every word of this.
   27. TJ Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:31 PM (#5439010)
Considering the gas cans my beloved Detroit Tigers have populating their bullpen, I would be in favor of any rule which limits the number of relievers a team can use in a game- preferably to one.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:32 PM (#5439011)
I am not advocating changing the pitching distance, just thinking aloud. It's hard to study practically because it messes with a pitcher's motion and his entire training. You can't just introduce it in a single minor league somewhere for a test run.


If the idea is to produce more balls in play/players in motion, I think the most sensible way to do it is to reduce the space between the bases. The infielders would have to adjust to that by creeping in, which would let more balls get through the infield for base hits, and more liners/pop-ups to drop between the IF and OF. Similarly, SBs would become easier (increasing rates), and DPs harder to turn.

   29. Greg Pope Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:43 PM (#5439024)
Does anyone know where Manfred gets his ideas? And I'm not asking in a snarky way. I mean, if he's meeting with Joe Torre and Bud Selig, and asking for suggestions, then he's severely limiting the ideas. I guess I'm wondering if ideas from sites such as BTF have any shot at getting up through the ranks. There are a few sportswriters who lurk here, who might write articles, which might get read by someone in the commissioner's office, which might turn into a real suggestion. But I have no idea if that kind of thing happens.

Because, the majority of people on here think it's really obvious that if you say, "Stay in the box, pitch within 12 seconds", you solve the pace problem. But I have no idea if Manfred hears that sort of thing.
   30. Blanks for Nothing, Larvell Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:43 PM (#5439025)
I agree with every word of this.


So then you disconcur with the lowering of the mound in 1969?

I don't get the impression that Manfred's first consideration is the total level of offense in the game. He seems to be concerned about the relative lack of offense late in the game, when the anonymous middle relievers get their shin-high fastballs and framed pitches off the plate routinely called strikes -- as he should be.
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:54 PM (#5439034)
So then you disconcur with the lowering of the mound in 1969?


I try not to "disconcur" with anything. But fair enough, I had no issue with that, though that seemed to be a response to an artificially created low-scoring environment.

I'm not opposed to minor rule tweaks to bring the game back into balance, particularly if the "problem" at hand seems intractable under the current rules.

I find wholesale changes like the idea of banning shifts asinine, particularly when there are so many more palatable options available within the game to reach the desired end.
   32. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:03 PM (#5439042)
What makes baseball interesting is the radically different possibilities of outcome. One game could be a 1-0 shutout, and the next game a 9-7 seesaw affair. When rules are changed to artificially produce either low scoring or high scoring games, that simply reduces those possibilities. Given the hints I've seen Manfred throw out up to now, from that farcical extra innings proposal to thinking about outlawing defensive shifts, the best thing he could do for baseball is to quit before he really screws up the game in a serious way

The premise that MLB needs radical reinvention is just WRONG. Let Manfred establish a separate Funny Ball League and see how that goes. MLB never had it better, just don't screw it up!
   33. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:05 PM (#5439045)
If shifts actually work then the make the game shorter. And while yeah, having things happen more quickly is a better solution to long games than making the 51 or 54 outs show up more quickly, if you want to make games shorter don't do things that are going to increase offense.

Also, shifts are kind of neat.

And most of all, keep the batter in the box and make the pitcher thrown the ball already.
   34. Sunday silence Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:06 PM (#5439047)
If the idea is to produce more balls in play/players in motion, I think the most sensible way to do it is to reduce the space between the bases.


why the fQ would that be the most sensible? I dont get your thinking at all; or the other guy who wants to change pitching distance. WOuld the most sensible/simple way be to LOWER THE MOUND?

Gee, I really dont get some of you.

Also, why the hell would anyone start suggesting like 4 or 5 rule changes at once? You sure as hell will never be able to figure out what you just did, or what needs tweaking, or what caused what when you make several changes at a time. If you really want to make a sensible suggestion , why dont you pick ONE. ONE EFFIN change that you would like to see to speed up the game; cause its silly to think anyone is going to institute 5 rule changes at once...

The most obvious/simplest way to speed up the game is to simply insist on pitchers delivering the ball within whatever time frame is already in the books. Its awfully curious why the debate gets so derailed and we start talking about all this other stuff.

Or conflating shifts with pace of the game....

Right now last I saw, pitchers were averaging 24 sec to deliver a pitch. OK half the time maybe a runner is on base, so they can take their time but the other half of the time no one is one so give them 12 secs. That ought to speed up the game by 25 min or so.

Start with that. Then see if the parade of reliever in the late inn. is really such a big deal. I mean its hard to say, maybe speeding up the pitching will also limit the effectiveness of 100 mph pitchers who face one batter.

Also visiting the mound is really a problem. Maybe count total visits per GAME rather than inn. Like you get 3 mound visits per game, includes catchers and managers. That would shut down that crap real quick.

Instead of mandating thicker bat handles, or drawing circles on the infield, or starting the count with 2 strikes or whatever other silly ideas you have.
   35. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:08 PM (#5439050)
Let Manfred establish a separate Funny Ball League and see how that goes.


What do you think the Designated Hitter was?
   36. The Non-Catching Molina (sjs1959) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:08 PM (#5439051)
Players didn't step out of the box as much when they knew that Gibson or Drysdale would knock them down on the next pitch. (Yes, I'm an old white guy, why do you ask?). Make the umpires call a true, consistent strike zone, make the hitters stay in the box unless they foul one off their body, have a 30-second pitch clock, and be done with it.

Flame away.
   37. SoSH U at work Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:15 PM (#5439057)
why the fQ would that be the most sensible? I dont get your thinking at all; or the other guy who wants to change pitching distance. WOuld the most sensible/simple way be to LOWER THE MOUND?


Most sensible in that it would most directly lead to the desired effect, without risking pitcher health by making them throw from a new distance/height, and of which we don't know how effective the changes would be at reaching the desired goal.

Strikeouts are not just caused by better pitchers, but by a choice made by hitters* to maximize hitting the ball hard over putting the ball in play (a wise choice, given current conditions). Reducing the height of the mound/increasing the distance to home doesn't make putting the ball in play more valuable than it had been, it just makes contact easier altogether.

Reducing the distance between the bases makes putting the ball in play more valuable than it has been, and more valauble compared with swinging and missing, and it makes taking extra bases a greater percentage play than they are now.

So, there's the reasoning.

* And by teams, to select for such characteristics.
   38. madvillain Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:19 PM (#5439059)
I think they should look at lowering the mound and using a pitch clock. Those aren't that radical imo.
   39. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:24 PM (#5439062)
The headline makes big claims about his vision, but the article is just a bunch of navel-gazing bullshit that doesn't show any vision.
   40. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:34 PM (#5439072)
So then you disconcur with the lowering of the mound in 1969?


I try not to "disconcur" with anything. But fair enough, I had no issue with that, though that seemed to be a response to an artificially created low-scoring environment.

That lowering of the mound in 1969 was merely a restoration of the status quo ante prior to 1963. The raising of the mound in 1963 was what helped to create that artificially low scoring environment in the first place.
   41. wjones Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:39 PM (#5439078)
What makes baseball interesting is the radically different possibilities of outcome. One game could be a 1-0 shutout, and the next game a 9-7 seesaw affair.

And sadly, both of these types of games will most likely have similar totals of pitching changes.

Is there a way to somehow make the pace of play problem the fault of C.B. Bucknor, Angel Hernandez, and Joe West?
   42. wjones Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:42 PM (#5439079)
I think they should look at lowering the mound and using a pitch clock. Those aren't that radical imo.

I would agree if something would be done to limit batters stepping out of the box to a set number. A pitcher can't deliver a pitch....clock or not....if the batter isn't in the box and the umpire doesn't make him get back in or call the pitch regardless.
   43. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:46 PM (#5439082)
Also visiting the mound is really a problem. Maybe count total visits per GAME rather than inn. Like you get 3 mound visits per game, includes catchers and managers. That would shut down that crap real quick.


Even here you're making two changes when you really only need one. There's a limit on how often the manager or pitching coach can visit the mound, but there's no limit on how often the catcher can do so. So, put a limit on how often the catcher can do so. Easy-peasy: problem solved. I'd go with once per inning, but any number will help. Right now, there's literally nothing to stop the catcher from talking to the pitcher before every batter.

The main "news" from TFA is where Manfred blames himself for making it seem like pace is his only concern.


If so, that's unfortunate. The pace of play really is the only problem with baseball. Or, at least, by far the biggest problem, in my opinion, and the only problem with an easy, obvious solution that could be implemented by Manfred tomorrow if he were really so inclined.

I'd prefer a game with fewer relief pitchers and fewer strikeouts, but trying to get those just right is a tricky proposition that could have unforeseen consequences if not implemented cautiously and carefully. So, start by fixing the big, easy stuff and see how much the other stuff is really still a problem.
   44. Astroenteritis Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:46 PM (#5439083)
What makes baseball interesting is the radically different possibilities of outcome. One game could be a 1-0 shutout, and the next game a 9-7 seesaw affair.


I do think this is a good thing, but other sports have similar ranges of outcomes. Some NFL games are 16-10, and some are 38-31. The NHL certainly can give you a 2-1 game and then a 5-4 game. I enjoy the occasional slugfest, but aren't high scoring games somewhat less likely to be close?

I also don't understand why people think the low scoring era in the sixties was "artificial". Lowering the mound was artificial, and certainly the designated hitter was an artificial introduction designed to bolster offense. Perhaps I have too much faith that baseball will be self-correcting, and that hitters will adjust to shifts, and so on, and the balance between offense and defense will naturally swing back and forth over time.
   45. Rally Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:48 PM (#5439086)
Make the umpires call a true, consistent strike zone, make the hitters stay in the box unless they foul one off their body, have a 30-second pitch clock, and be done with it.


I'm not sure we want a completely uniform strike zone. That's the sort of thing I think would help the hitters more than the pitchers - and lead us back into sillyball offensive stats. I think the uncertainty of the status quo works against a hitter. Pitchers not so much, because hitting your spots isn't easy anyway. Also, a pitcher knows which umpire he's throwing to and if what he's trying to do doesn't work with the zone the ump is calling, he has time to adjust. Maybe he has a bad first inning, but can settle into the ump's zone after he faces a few batters.

For a batter, after you've had a few plate appearances and know what the ump is calling today, the game is over, and you get to start all over with a new ump tomorrow.
   46. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:53 PM (#5439089)
Perhaps I have too much faith that baseball will be self-correcting


Run scoring in general ebbs and flows and some things have obvious cyclical self-correcting features. Defensive shifts being an obvious one here: if the shift works effectively, it increases the value of hitters who either use the whole field or at least are capable of dropping a bunt to beat the shift.

The two things which, historically, have not really been cyclical, but have been much more trends are the numbers of strikeouts and relief pitchers, both of which have trended up fairly unabated since the beginning of baseball. Maybe there's a natural upper limit to both - the 25-man roster would seem to put a limit on the number of relief pitchers, if nothing else - but I'd be somewhat more skeptical that these trends will turn out to be "self-correcting" without at least a subtle nudge. The trick is to make the nudge as subtle as possible to minimize the unintended consequences.
   47. Blanks for Nothing, Larvell Posted: April 20, 2017 at 03:08 PM (#5439103)
If so, that's unfortunate. The pace of play really is the only problem with baseball.


The anonymous middle relievers and the two-act games (*) are very much a problem. It would be a problem in the NBA if you went to a Cavs game and LeBron James and Kyrie Irving only played 18 minutes. Hell, just giving LeBron James a night off is becoming a problem -- expressly noted by the NBA commissioner.

Maybe there's a natural upper limit to both - the 25-man roster would seem to put a limit on the number of relief pitchers, if nothing else


It really doesn't, particularly now with the 10-day disabled list. There's a limit on the number of anonymous middle relievers in any particular game, but the number over a season is far greater -- making them even more anonymous and prevalent. Verducci had an article a couple days ago on this very point, how the Dodgers intend to intentionally use a bunch of pitchers this year and limit their starters' innings. The Dodgers, of course, used something like 32 pitchers to get through last season.

(*) The idea that one pitcher would make it through 6 or 7 innings, typically, and then that 4-5 more would then be used to get through 2 or 3 innings is just bizarre on its face.
   48. Ithaca2323 Posted: April 20, 2017 at 03:23 PM (#5439126)
Reducing the distance between the bases makes putting the ball in play more valuable than it has been, and more valauble compared with swinging and missing, and it makes taking extra bases a greater percentage play than they are now.


Given that you said you liked how you could have a wide variety of outcomes (1-0 or 9-7) this is surprising. I think what you're proposing would lead to a massive increase in scoring
   49. BDC Posted: April 20, 2017 at 03:25 PM (#5439128)
Reducing the distance between the bases makes putting the ball in play more valuable than it has been

A very interesting idea, and a bit out of the box. Not as hard on the players as some changes, though would play havoc with grounds crews :)

Although constrictions of playing areas are rarely invoked, because players on average tend to be larger (and techniques better) than when the old dimensions were adopted. Baskets have never been raised from 10' (though you hear it proposed), but rules have been continually tweaked to encourage basketball players to play farther from the basket. Goalposts were moved back and the NFL keeps moving the kickers steadily backwards. Two-line passes have been liberalized in hockey, etc.

Outfield dimensions are an exception, I suppose (they've crept in somewhat during my lifetime, especially in dead-center fields), though there are economic factors at work there, not just HR distance.
   50. SoSH U at work Posted: April 20, 2017 at 03:34 PM (#5439139)
Given that you said you liked how you could have a wide variety of outcomes (1-0 or 9-7) this is surprising. I think what you're proposing would lead to a massive increase in scoring


Without additional changes, yes, it would. Pairing it with pushing back the fences might be the best way to address the current imbalance (too many Ks) without shifting things too far in favor of the offense.

That's my main issue with any mound changes - the primary outcome isn't to lower strikeouts (which might happen, though you still need to find 27 outs somewhere and it doesn't make swinging for the fences any less appealing), but to increase offense. But we're not in a low-offense era (at least 2016 wasn't).

And, for what it's worth, I'm not advocating a change in the basepath distance, as I'd prefer MLB tried other smaller changes well before it got to that. But I do believe that most effective route to fixing a balls in play problem is to make putting the ball in play worth more than it is now in relation to swinging and missing. This is the most direct answer to that I can think of.
   51. Brian C Posted: April 20, 2017 at 03:57 PM (#5439173)
But I do believe that most effective route to fixing a balls in play problem is to make putting the ball in play worth more than it is now in relation to swinging and missing. This is the most direct answer to that I can think of.

My vague feeling is that thinking on this topic is slowly starting to change on its own. I don't have evidence to support that, but I generally sense that there's a little bit of a stigma coming back to striking out constantly.
   52. TomH Posted: April 20, 2017 at 03:58 PM (#5439176)
if we cut the KOs (by lowering the mound or increasing the pitch distance), won't that effectively do what #50 asks? And all sorts of (good) repercussions may follow: drafting pitchers who have control to lower BBs. Position payers who can run, because defensive value goes up when there are more BIP. Which then makes HR go down as a tradeoff, which makes pitchers less afraid to put the ball over, snowball gets bigger as it rolls down the hill....

I suspect baseball with lots of possible errors and few KOs and few HRs and many SB/H&R/SH in 1900 was actually pretty exciting to watch!
   53. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 20, 2017 at 04:13 PM (#5439188)
Reducing the distance between bases or the pitching distance seems like crazy talk. Diamonds across the country have been the same size forever.

There are a lot of ways to tinker with the game that don't include the very basic of basics.

   54. PreservedFish Posted: April 20, 2017 at 04:20 PM (#5439194)
I assume that the discussion in this thread treads over well worn territory for us. I'll just say that while I'm glad that Manfred identifies some of the right problems with the game, and I don't have a problem with MLB being a bit more proactive in trying to make the game more entertaining, I also have less than zero faith that they will find the correct solutions.
   55. Brian C Posted: April 20, 2017 at 04:29 PM (#5439200)
I'd rather do anything other than change distance between bases. It's frankly astounding to me how well that distance has held up over the years - as one talking head (don't remember who) pointed out once, 90 feet turns out to be the perfect distance. If you hit a grounder at someone in the infield, it doesn't matter how fast you are, you're not going to beat it out if they field cleanly and make a good throw. You might come really close, and you might be fast enough to put a lot of pressure on the fielder to field it cleanly. But if they do, you won't beat it out, full stop.

Reducing the distance between bases would fundamentally alter the game. Do you like bunt hits? Because that would be about all you'd get.
   56. Captain Supporter Posted: April 20, 2017 at 04:29 PM (#5439201)
I can't believe that I now very much miss Bud Selig.
   57. Swoboda is freedom Posted: April 20, 2017 at 04:32 PM (#5439204)
If so, that's unfortunate. The pace of play really is the only problem with baseball.

I would ban managers visits, or limit is to 1 per game. If he needs to call for a reliever, do it from the dugout.

   58. PreservedFish Posted: April 20, 2017 at 04:39 PM (#5439211)
If you hit a grounder at someone in the infield, it doesn't matter how fast you are, you're not going to beat it out if they field cleanly and make a good throw. You might come really close, and you might be fast enough to put a lot of pressure on the fielder to field it cleanly. But if they do, you won't beat it out, full stop.


I do not think this is accurate - 90 feet is not magical. The infielders position themselves at a natural place where they can maximize their range while also considering their distance from the bases and the length of the required throws. If the bases were 85 feet or 95 feet they would just stand in different places and there would be just as many bang-bang plays and we would still congratulate the framers on their infinite wisdom in choosing a perfect distance.

But to be clear, I would not touch the distance between bases - some things should be sacrosanct, but more importantly there's simply no reason to change field. They just need a ####### pitch clock, or similar. That would instantly solve the biggest problem. The other problems - not enough balls in play, too many relievers - are comparatively minor, and require more complex solutions, so they should be on the backburner.
   59. Tippecanoe Posted: April 20, 2017 at 04:50 PM (#5439225)

I'm not sure we want a completely uniform strike zone. That's the sort of thing I think would help the hitters more than the pitchers - and lead us back into sillyball offensive stats.


Not if the strike zone is large enough. If one actually had the capability to create a truly uniform strike zone (Robo-ump??), then it could be adjusted to whatever level of scoring is desired.
   60. Bote Man Posted: April 20, 2017 at 05:00 PM (#5439236)
I wish Manfred would consider free beer at ballgames!!
   61. dejarouehg Posted: April 20, 2017 at 05:04 PM (#5439239)
It's frankly astounding to me how well that distance has held up over the years - as one talking head (don't remember who) pointed out once, 90 feet turns out to be the perfect distance. If you hit a grounder at someone in the infield, it doesn't matter how fast you are, you're not going to beat it out if they field cleanly and make a good throw.


I've always marveled at how well this works, though I assume it's more the case that they settled on 90 feet and the consequences were what they were, rather than, here's what happens if the bases are 74' apart.

I expect Tony Clark to make up any excuse to resist any change b/c that's the mindset of this union. That said, his perspective that 100 mph throwers need more recovery time is something I'd never thought about. The doctor who did my son's TJ surgery, who is also the Yankees' doctor, said that being able to throw hard without having to put the greatest amount of exertion into each pitch is key to reducing stress and chance of injury. But who throws a nice-and-easy 99 mph? (Besides Chapman who when he was clearly worn down in the playoffs tailed off to a very hittable 97 mph.)

My preferred rules/changes:
1) Enforce the existing 12 second pitch rule
2) Batters always have to keep 1 foot in the box and get one opportunity to call time per at bat - enough with the batting glove adjustment
3) Pitchers, with runners on base must deliver a pitch home at least once every 45 seconds. (I know, not a great idea.)
4) Bullpen mounds are exact replicas of game mound. Relief pitchers get 60 seconds or 4 warm-up pitches, whichever is greater, absent an injury. Pitchers must be driven to mound or sprint. Take your sweet ass time elsewhere
5) There must always be 2 infielders on each side of 2nd base prior to a pitch - not a shift fan - infielder who is stationed behind 2B is limited in terms of distractions to batter
6) Ads can be on uniforms (I really hate this but it's inevitable and anything that can reduce time between innings would be appreciated)

   62. PreservedFish Posted: April 20, 2017 at 05:10 PM (#5439241)
That said, his perspective that 100 mph throwers need more recovery time is something I'd never thought about. The doctor who did my son's TJ surgery, who is also the Yankees' doctor, said that being able to throw hard without having to put the greatest amount of exertion into each pitch is key to reducing stress and chance of injury.


That's one way to look at it. Another way is to say that a pitch clock will restrain pitchers - without proper recovery time they will throw at a lower effort level and thus lower velocity, leading to more balls in play, more late inning scoring etc.
   63. Sleepy's not going to blame himself Posted: April 20, 2017 at 05:47 PM (#5439262)
Maybe television broadcasts can shorten commercial breaks by adding ads to a corner of the screen during play.
Because of course this will lead to shorter commercial breaks, rather than crap on the screen during play while keeping commercial breaks the same length.
   64. Walt Davis Posted: April 20, 2017 at 05:52 PM (#5439265)
Molina is making his 93rd trip to the mound

I think we can all agree that catcher visits should be capped at 72 in a 9-inning game and 12 per inning in extras.
   65. cardsfanboy Posted: April 20, 2017 at 06:06 PM (#5439270)
I agree with those arguing to avoid too much radical changes, but there are a few that I support.

As mentioned pace of play problem is easily fixed already by just following the time clock rules. If I had to make any additions to it, it would be 1. Once a pitcher puts his foot on the rubber he is required to throw a pitch before he can be removed from the game. (this is a minor issue, but it's a time waster when the bullpen isn't ready, and the pitcher makes multiple pick off attempts to stall for time.) 2. limit catcher visits, and add a radio between the pitcher, catcher and manager.


In regards to increasing the value of putting the ball in play, I'm more a fan of requiring smaller gloves for all positions except first base. Basically everyone is going to be required to have what is typically a second baseman glove. I think this does several things, it will increase babip, it will expose lesser fielders more so the gap between the poor and great will be larger, at the same time, the overall runs saved value for defense will decrease a bit.


I'm not ever going to be a fan of limiting relief pitchers length of appearance beyond what we already have in the books, but I would support rules limiting the number of pitchers on a roster. (and heck to be truly radical I would support rules where the size of the roster is expanded in extra inning games over regulation games.) I would also never support a rule eliminating the shift either.
   66. Greg Pope Posted: April 20, 2017 at 06:06 PM (#5439271)
My preferred rules/changes:
1) Enforce the existing 12 second pitch rule
2) Batters always have to keep 1 foot in the box and get one opportunity to call time per at bat - enough with the batting glove adjustment
3) Pitchers, with runners on base must deliver a pitch home at least once every 45 seconds. (I know, not a great idea.)
4) Bullpen mounds are exact replicas of game mound. Relief pitchers get 60 seconds or 4 warm-up pitches, whichever is greater, absent an injury. Pitchers must be driven to mound or sprint. Take your sweet ass time elsewhere
5) There must always be 2 infielders on each side of 2nd base prior to a pitch - not a shift fan - infielder who is stationed behind 2B is limited in terms of distractions to batter
6) Ads can be on uniforms (I really hate this but it's inevitable and anything that can reduce time between innings would be appreciated)


1) Yes.
2) You know, I think this would work. Sure, some batters would call timeout after the first pitch, but they would quickly stop doing that once they got used to staying in the box. Also, many would not bother since you never know if you might need it later in the AB. This addresses the "what if there's dust in the batter's eye" while also keeping batters in the box. But I'm assuming that when you say that they have to keep 1 foot in the box, it's during the timeout. If they don't call timeout, they have to stay in the box or else the pitcher can pitch.
3) Eh, let's try the first 2 and see if there's still a problem with runners on. My thought is that pitchers will get used to working quickly and this won't be needed.
4) Agree, but less important.
5) No. Shifting is fine, at least for now.
6) No. There's no way this will reduce time between innings. It may be inevitable, but let's not let them do it under false pretenses.
   67. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 20, 2017 at 06:20 PM (#5439280)
The game is fine, but I'm beginning to think that in addition to tossing the Commish, MLB needs less whiny fans. Maybe pharmaceuticals could help.
   68. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: April 20, 2017 at 08:22 PM (#5439349)
Pairing it with pushing back the fences might be the best way to address the current imbalance (too many Ks)


I'm pretty sure that pushing back the fences would do most of the work all by itself. As would deadening the ball a little. Like you said, the strikeouts are as much of result of changes in hitters' approach as they are of improvements in pitchers' effectiveness. Make it harder to hit home runs and easier to get a hit on a BIP and the hitters will change their approach.
   69. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:07 PM (#5439400)
6) Ads can be on uniforms (I really hate this but it's inevitable and anything that can reduce time between innings would be appreciated)

6) No. There's no way this will reduce time between innings. It may be inevitable, but let's not let them do it under false pretenses.
More to the point, reducing time between innings is a bad idea. It's a knee jerk idea about reducing game time, but that time is useful. (Less so in the DVR era, but still useful.) You can go to the bathroom, get food, etc.
   70. PreservedFish Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:40 PM (#5439444)
More to the point, reducing time between innings is a bad idea. It's a knee jerk idea about reducing game time, but that time is useful. (Less so in the DVR era, but still useful.) You can go to the bathroom, get food, etc.


Interesting perspective. You may be right.
   71. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:59 PM (#5439465)
The premise that MLB needs radical reinvention is just WRONG. Let Manfred establish a separate Funny Ball League and see how that goes. MLB never had it better, just don't screw it up!
Reaching back a ways to agree with Clapper.

And adding this: for ####'s sake I want the people leading the game to STOP PUBLICLY TALKING DOWN THE GAME. Is any other major sport close to MLB in this regard? And this well predates Manfred so I'm not just blaming him. But seriously just STOP IT. You don't build something up by pissing all over it.
   72. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:09 PM (#5439475)
You don't build something up by pissing all over it.

Moises Alou begs to differ.
   73. cardsfanboy Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:11 PM (#5439477)
More to the point, reducing time between innings is a bad idea. It's a knee jerk idea about reducing game time, but that time is useful. (Less so in the DVR era, but still useful.) You can go to the bathroom, get food, etc.


Yep. I don't really care about time between innings, we as fans know how much time is there and schedule accordingly.

I do not really think there is any issue with length of game, it used to be a quick proxy for pace of play, but now we have more and more data there, that we know where the real issues lie.
   74. Cooper Nielson Posted: April 21, 2017 at 12:43 AM (#5439552)
Considering the gas cans my beloved Detroit Tigers have populating their bullpen, I would be in favor of any rule which limits the number of relievers a team can use in a game- preferably to one.

And that one has to be Justin Wilson.
   75. GGC for Sale Posted: April 21, 2017 at 06:14 AM (#5439564)
19. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:08 PM (#5438966)
Oh good, we haven't talked about this before. I look forward to new and exciting suggestions and opinions.


Number 7 will blow your mind.
   76. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:23 AM (#5439617)
is there a site that shows average game time? I hear all this complaining about length of games, but, the Reds have managed to play 14 of 16 games this year in 3:05 or less, with 6 of those under 2:45 (including a 10 inning game last night). What would be the "ideal" average game time?
   77. The Good Face Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:38 AM (#5439687)
The game is fine,


Baseball is awesome. The problem is too much time is spent on things that are not baseball. Make pitchers pitch instead of dicking around on the mound for 45 seconds. Make batters stay in the batter's box instead of stepping out after every pitch, fiddling with their gloves, etc.
   78. BDC Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:44 AM (#5439693)
The Rangers and Royals got to the ninth inning in about 2½ hours last night. I had been at the theater and was surprised to see the game so far along when I got home.

Except it was 0-0. They played into the 13th and finished the game in 3:47 :)
   79. SandyRiver Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:51 AM (#5439697)
I do not think this is accurate - 90 feet is not magical.


Not magic, perhaps, but probably as close to it as any dimension in sport. As noted above, infielders can adjust in and out, trading range for quickness. That's what happens when the IF is drawn in for a play at the plate - I've read comments that the drawn-in IF makes everyone a .400 batter. However, changing basepath length (which no one here seems to advocate) will have multiple consequences. My impression on SB attempts is that, when the catcher makes a decent throw, 90% of the time its a bang-bang play at the bag, which adds to the drama. Shortening the distance would dramatically alter that, unless lead length were limited or balk rules softened.

4th item from #61: Usually, the reliever's "warm-up" pitches are no such thing, but more a way for the game catcher to see what kind of stuff the guy has that day. If his slider is coming in flat, it's nice to know that before the first one called gets hit over the fence.

This kind of assumes that the guy throwing 90 isn't already throwing his hardest. Just because a guy is capable of throwing 100 MPH doesn't mean that's more individual effort than the guy throwing 90 - it probably just means he's got more giddy-up on his fastball to begin with.


Kind of a rabbit trail, but this reminds me of a Lefty Gomez story. Late in his career, a sportswriter noted that he wasn't throwing as hard as he used to. Response: "I'm throwing harder than ever. The ball just doesn't go as fast."
   80. cardsfanboy Posted: April 21, 2017 at 11:46 AM (#5439745)
is there a site that shows average game time? I hear all this complaining about length of games, but, the Reds have managed to play 14 of 16 games this year in 3:05 or less, with 6 of those under 2:45 (including a 10 inning game last night). What would be the "ideal" average game time?


Baseball Reference does. if you go to attendance and misc, it's in there. (although that is just the average time per team, I don't see a summary listing for the league as a whole)

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