What happened to the game of baseball that made it less exciting? Is pace of play responsible for less excitement and for games being too long?
Will pace of play changes drive more interest and more excitement?
Is Rob Manfred on the right track with some of his ideas?
Are you ready for some answers? How about one explanation that addresses all of the above?
I believe being the Commissioner of Baseball is one of the toughest commish jobs in all of sports; except for maybe hockey. Trying to appease today’s young fan with a game that oozes strategy and subtle game-within-the-game activity is almost a hopeless cause. Because without constant movement and action, you lose them to the bar and the food court.
I want to like Rob Manfred. I really do! And the ideas he is considering in his continued pursuit to improve pace of play are admirable.
The strike zone? Yep, they have to do something. If nothing else, we need a zone that makes it easier for umpires to call low strikes. Because never, EVER, have I seen such horrific calling of balls and strikes than in 2016. Just absolutely mind-boggling. Pitches below the knees were continually called strikes and so many not only low, but off the plate. So I agree with raising the strike zone.
Check the box.
Intentional walks? Yeah, so few mistakes are made during that whole process; not a lot of intrigue and as little time that it takes, it’s a good non-game effecting opportunity to gain more flow. In the interests of well, interest, who cares enough to continue this? Put 4 fingers in the air and let’s move on.
Check the box.
But what can have the biggest impact? What are we missing? I think we are missing an issue that affects pace of play more than anything else in today’s game. Sorry, but its instant replay. Let’s review that …….. yep, confirmed … instant replay.
Let’s separate ourselves from the rest of sports. Drop this instant replay madness. You want to slow up a baseball game? Go ahead, review it! You want today’s fan to lose interest, as the ump tries to figure out if the catcher blocked the plate or not. Go ahead, review it!
And outside of game action, what do fans love the most? A good nose-to- nose argument between a manager and an umpire. Fans love it, and even those meaningless yet entertaining episodes have been muted by instant replay.
Sure there have been times when it has made a big difference in getting a call right in an important game. But this is something that just interferes with what the Commish is trying to improve – pace.
This is a radical solution. Guilty as charged. But I haven’t seen one solution yet that will drastically move games along. And abolishing instant replay would do it in dramatic fashion. Decisions take too long. Managers review plays sometimes in a “what do I have to lose” fashion. Out come the headphones and out of the balloon goes the air.
Heck, I have destroyed pace of play in baseball just by discussing it this long!
Enough already! I am still bitter over what has been taken away from the game. Forget pace! What about excitement and aggression?
Baseball has gone to a place from which they can never return. The day catchers could no longer block the plate was a sad day for baseball. The day runners could no longer take somebody out at second base was a sad day for baseball.
Fear of injury took fierce competitiveness out of the game. You take those plays out of baseball and you begin taking the heart out of the game. Those are mistakes that can never be undone.
Our game has been spayed and neutered. What’s done is done. And pinning all of our hopes on initiatives to speed things up and give the game more flow will never repair the damage already inflicted on our great game.
If anything, let’s slow down. Ramifications need to be studied long and hard before we take more starch out of a game that used to be a whole lot better.
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