Written by Andrew Santangelo
The question of how to make the game of baseball more popular is one of the most popular questions in sports. The commissioner sport is struggling himself. The question to ask though is he getting in his way? Baseball has been a strategy game since the day it was first played in 1871. The strategy in baseball is what brings extra enjoyment to the sport, especially for die-hard fans. The pace of the game, which might be the biggest criticism of the sport is just not fixable, no matter how much you rush the pitcher by giving him a certain amount of seconds to throw the next pitch.
Fast Forward to 2019, as we get set for the 2020 season, the winter meetings just came to a close, and Rob Manfred, of course, had to address the future of the game. There were a few things to take a serious note on this. The first one is the new rule going into 2020, which will be that relief pitchers have to face a minimum of three hitters or finish the half-inning. This will be a huge change for the league, as one of the biggest things recently has been matching up left-handed pitchers with lefties in certain game situations. Then Manfred is rumored to add a pitch clock soon forcing the ball to be pitched in 20 seconds. This has already been implemented into the minor leagues has had some positive or negative vibes to it. Pitchers do not like the idea of being rushed.
The three pitcher minimum was ripped on by World Series-winning managers Joe Maddon and Joe Girardi recently. They both were completely against the idea of this and think that there are other ways to fix the game.
Baseball has never been a sport that was meant to be rushed. It is a strategy game for a reason. Manfred is taking away a lot of the strategy portion of the game with some of these new rules. His latest comments which came on the final day of the winter meetings irked baseball fans the wrong way.
The MLB has made a proposal that will eliminate at least 42 minor league baseball teams. This is a disgrace to baseball. Not only do some of these minor league teams represent cities that do not have or can not afford professional teams but they represent organizations. These 42 teams would cause a whole lot of players to become jobless as well which would be depressing. The minor leagues are a lot of fun to watch and draw crowds, especially in areas this is their only shot to see professional baseball.
The minor league baseball issue is one that touches a lot of people from die-hard fans all the way to even the players. Trevor Baur, pitcher for the Reds has never been afraid to voice his opinion. He posted this quote to twitter after the news broke
“At least Rob Manfred is trying to ruin baseball at all levels and isn’t discriminating. something to be said for consistency, I guess. What’s your most hated Rob Manfred idea? This is only one player but he is not the only one not happy with the current commissioner along with many fans.
Manfred seems to be wanting to ‘fix’ the game but he is ostracizing himself causing unnecessary errors which in traditional baseball fan’s eyes are hurting rather than helping the sport today. The rating in recent history has fluctuated both positively and negatively year to year between game attendance and television viewership.
Lastly he will have to deal with two very important issues that could define his performance overall. First, the rumor that the balls are being changed which are helping the home run count go up. Overall it does not seem like fans have too much of an issue with it. It is the pitchers that seem to have voiced concerns. Second the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal. He needs to make sure he gets this punishment right or he is setting a bad example for the rest of the league.
Every sport needs the right rule change and the simple thing is Manfred is not always making the right one. The safety rules can be defended for the reason of safety but even the new catcher interference rules, plays at the plate have become so judgmental and came with criticism as well.
Manfred needs to slow down and think about the rules he is trying to implement and figure out what is best for the sport overall because what is happening is not working its affecting players and the game in a negative way to often it seems like.