Baseball is discussing rules change, love it, like it, or leave it? SSU writers weigh in

So Major League baseball is looking at the game and determined to make the game more accessible, faster, or just plain more fair. They have been looking at tweaking the rules. But how many of these proposed rule changes are legitimate, valid, or just plain dumb?

Seattle Sports Union writers Matthew Paige (senior editor), Brian Solack (baseball editor), and Abraham DeWeese (old curmudgeon) give their input on the following.

Universal DH

On the heels of an Edgar Martinez induction to the Hall of Fame, the MLB is investigating expanding the designated hitter to the National League. After 40 years in the American League the DH has added a different element lauded by its proponents and despised by traditionalists. The goal is to increase offense.

Matt:

This very idea makes me sick. Don’t get me wrong, Edgar is my all-time favorite player. Nothing made me happier than seeing him get into the Hall last month, an honor rightfully deserved. But I enjoy the different styles of play between the two leagues. I consider myself a baseball fanatic and as a result, I have two teams I follow. An NL team (Dodgers) and an AL one (Mariners). Both offer different strengths and approaches to the game and it’s fun to see those in play. Leave the Senior Circuit alone! With the DH you see entire games where the bench isnt used and you never get the level of strategy around deciding to pull pitchers or not when their at bat comes up. It adds another dimension of strategy to the game and I think the game is stronger with it. If this happens, I will mourn the loss of the Senior Circuit.

Brian:

The old me would say no, don’t mess with success, with history of the greatest game ever. My opinion has changed. Get rid of the pitcher batting. There’s no need for it in baseball. It’s an extra out 99 out of 100 times. The DH will create more excitement including more offense in a league that can be boring at times. Make it happen MLB, there should be no reason why this doesn’t happen. It will be only good for baseball.

Abraham:

I like the designated hitter a lot. I find it incredibly boring to watch a pitcher bunt every 9th at bat. That being said, I love the idea of a two leagues who are divergent and have almost play a different game. It is fun to see teams adjust in the world series to each other. Tradition for me is the divergence in leagues and I want to keep it.

 

20 second pitch clock

Matt:

A dumb idea. They seem to be focusing only on the pitchers as the source of the delay. Meanwhile I have to watch every batter after EVERY pitch step out and adjust every piece of clothing they own. There’s smarter ways to speed things up, but really this isn’t it.

Brian:

This isn’t basketball. This is so stupid. I agree at times there can be too many seconds between pitches but that can be fixed. If it’s a pitcher who is known for taking too long, issue warnings to them during the game. 3 strikes and you’re out. Sounds probably stupid to some, but I guarantee it won’t be an issue anymore down the road once someone disobeys the rule. If it’s a batter who takes too many breaks between pitches, again issue a warning. Also, the umpire doesn’t have to stop play cause the player needs to step out and adjust his batting gloves or whatever their issue might be.

Abraham:

I like it–DO IT! However, human rain delays like Robinson Cano should not be able to call time out as often as they do. Pitchers are not the only waste of time in baseball.

 

3 batter minimum

The MLB is investigating requiring that a pitcher be forced to pitch a minimum of 3 batters before being pulled by management. The idea is to speed up the pace of play.

Matt:

Second worst idea here. This gives a crazy advantage to the team currently on offense. They can pinch hit, but you’re stuck with your own pitcher for 3 at bats? Once again focusing on the pitchers as the source of delay is wrong. I dont care if a team uses all 12 or 13 of their pitchers in one game, that’s their prerogative. It hurts them later in the series, but it’s definitely their call. This rule will lead to a bunch of fake injuries that will be obvious and dumb.

Brian:

Another stupid rule. It won’t speed up baseball necessarily. Managers should be allowed to manage the ballgame how they see it. There is a reason why the relief pitcher is a “left-handed specialist.” No reason why they can’t bring the lefty in to get the left-handed bat out. One batter or 3 batters. It won’t speed up baseball. Either way you are going to the bullpen most likely that inning. Very rarely do you see them change pitchers more than twice in one inning (current pitcher to lefty specialist to closer for example). I just don’t see the reasoning behind this.

Abraham:

Whoa! pump the brakes on this. it seems like a great idea but, what do you do if your pitcher just threw 8 straight balls? you telling me as a manager i have to let him throw one more at bat? at that point the rule has just ruined my inning. I would rather have the pitcher feign injury to get out of the inning than give up a bases loaded.

 

Limited mound visits

Last year, the MLB limited mound visits to 6 per game. they are investigating limiting it more. The idea is to limit relievers substitutions.

Matt:

I’m on board with the existing rule of 6, but do not decrease that. Mound visits are fine, and part of the game. There’s plenty of good reasons to visit the mound, and they aid in competition. Once again, focusing on pitchers alone is not fair and not the problem alone.

Brian:

Limiting to 6 per game speeds it up, but there’s no reason to decrease that even more. Catchers and coaches should be allowed visits to the mound during the game. There are reasons for it. By cutting into that even more I think it possibly lets the games get out of hand by possibly increasing the length of an inning (from getting out of the inning by getting that early visit to a pitcher pitching to possibly 9 batters in an inning). By being able to go out to the mound during the game makes a difference for that ballclub. Six visits are fine, don’t change something that won’t speed up the game. This shouldn’t even be considered as an option.

Abraham:

I love this! Now this seems to be a forced substitution rule, but I say no! This is a limit to the waste of time that managers do to give relievers time to warm up. For the benefit of increasing the pace of play, managers should have relivers warm up before they are needed. It isnt “traditional” but we need to speed up these games and i would rather it be here than somewhere else where it impacts the quality of play.

 

Lower the mound/ move the mound back

Due to a proliferation of pitching, the MLB is investigating boosting the offense by handicapping pitching. Be it lowering the mound or moving it back.

Matt:

I’m a purist and love a good pitcher’s duel. My idea of the best game to watch is 2 pitchers throwing complete games and one of them letting up only 1 run. I do not understand this new obsession with offense since 1994 and desire to punish pitchers. We’re finally recovering from the last expansion teams and the dilutions of good pitching. We’re finally at the point where there’s enough quality pitchers to put on each roster to make games competitive again. Why mess with that? Why do we keep attacking pitching? Leave it be.

Brian:

Really, this is even an issue? I don’t understand the meaning of it. You mess with this, you mess with the entire system where you must change little league/high school/colleges. It totally changes baseball. It messes with pitcher’s velocity, batters adjusting their swings, teams will have to probably teach their farm system new techniques, colleges will have to do the same, etc. Let’s move the mound back. How does moving the mound increase the speed of the ballgame. Let’s play long toss to the catcher. Let’s decrease the pitcher’s velocity. I see more runs, more walks, etc. Stupid.

Abraham:

I have noticed that there are a lot more pitchers these days who can pitch 100+mph and are striking out more batters. I have also noticed that hitter have been knocking more pitchers over the fence these days. So I ask “whats the problem?” I love it! More dingers and flame thrower pitchers! I think that it will self correct at some point. We will see in the future a revolutionary Ichiro type who hits for contact and more Edgar like players who let wild pitchers walk him. Don’t over legislate this, the game is fine where it is.

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Matt Paige is the Baseball Managing Editor and a regular contributor on SSU TV and for Seahawks Football. He also writes the column "The Call-Up" and is a rabid fan of all teams Seattle (Except the Huskies. Go Ducks!).