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Wednesday, January 08, 2020

The Pen: How baseball might change in the 2020s

Baseball has such a long history of proud consistency and a culture built on self-referential comparisons between eras. From a distance it’s defined by sameness across centuries, but when you zoom in, it feels like we’re always in a moment of pivotal — and controversial — change. That was true of the last decade (10 years ago there wasn’t even in-season testing for human-growth hormone, only the Los Angeles Angels were interested in a young man named Mike Trout, and instant replay applied only to home runs) and it will certainly be true of the 2020s.

For instance: an overhaul of the way pitch selection is relayed and even who does the relaying. On Monday, I reported on Major League Baseball’s plans to test prototypes as soon as this spring for technological communication of pitches. We don’t know yet what that will look like — wearable random number generators, lights in the mound, or something else entirely — but I’m sure its implementation will be contentious and hand-wring-y and full of opportunities to lament the state of a once-great game.

I, for one, am looking forward to it. Implicit in that news was another forthcoming change. MLB (in this case that means people within the commissioner’s office) expects teams to shift toward having coaches in the dugout calling the game instead of catchers behind the plate. The various trickle-down effects — making the backstop more of a filler role for another offensive powerhouse — are fascinating, both fun to predict and exciting in their exhaustive unpredictability. Baseball doesn’t change so much as evolve — developments in the wider world beget necessary reactions which beget adaptations or even exploitations and counterstrikes and codifications and overcorrections, and the whole process is constantly acting on all areas of the game in perpetuity.

In the spirit of all this and the new decade, here are a handful of (arbitrary and largely uninformed) predictions for baseball in the 2020s

Which of these shifts will we see? Which won’t happen? Which of these will, but that we wish didn’t?

QLE Posted: January 08, 2020 at 12:56 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: montreal, player managers, robot umpires, schedule, the future

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