This year’s MLB Opening Day is different from recent iterations, as the media doesn’t have (most of) their usual talking points to complain about. The rule changes will shorten games, interrupt dialogue about shifts, and provide baserunners with cushions to slip into. Yay! Now if we could just convince people who still watch baseball to stop worrying about strikeouts and embrace true three-out at-bats.
Is the new pitch clock good for baseball?
Commissioner Rob Manfred can tell us that the changes are “restore baseball to when it was most popular” whatever he wants, but the truth is, MLB hasn’t had the juice in a while now. If you were to ask sports fans as a whole, not just die-hard baseball fans, what they would like to see, a wide range would point to the World Baseball Classic final and say, “That. Give me more of that.
The difference between baseball and other major American sports is that the biggest names in the NFL, NBA and NHL can field imperfect playoff rosters. It’s great for the Shield that Aaron Rodgers can get the Packers in a playoff win while nursing an ayahuasca hangover and shopping in an apartment in Manhattan. An NBA team with LeBron James has to be a special kind of terrible not to make the playoffs.
If Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani were basketball players, their team would top the title every year and lead First take as if every day was the WBC. It’s long past time to see these two play in meaningful MLB games, and I’m not the only one trying. to find ways to get there.
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That said, there’s no way to change the game to ensure we get apex predators in the playoffs without something ridiculous like making every Trout and Ohtani RBI worth double (triple? ).
So if we can’t do that, the powers that be end up with fan service, and that’s always a risky proposition, especially in baseball.
Find the right place for fan-service
I’m anti-fanservice as much as the others The Rise of Skywalker hateful, but that’s the sport where there was a safety net argument only because old people hate young people looking at their phones. Baseball really needed some soul-searching, and I’m told that admitting you have a problem is always the first step to recovery. The height clock is good. We’ll see if the increased pace of play still keeps me awake until round seven. Killing lag and huge bases are pluses I guess.
My question is: what if that’s not enough?
Much needs to be fixed to restore baseball to its role as the national pastime, and that won’t happen with a few tweaks to the rules. Yes, the change is annoying, but will it reduce the influx of no-hitters and impossible-to-hit pitches?
Today’s sports fans want drama, top players making high-profile plays, mind-numbing offenses, comebacks, polarizing dynasties, and as much hyperbole as possible in a column.
Baseball has a few of those things, but nowhere near enough to satiate a population that has been conditioned by cellphones and social media. Whenever batters hit too many home runs, they, or the baseballs, are met with skepticism. Balls, players, or both are filled with juice! Hitting is too easy! We must live in a world where history matters and where records are impossible to break!
ROGER FUCKING HUSBAND!
Offensive marks are exceeded every year in football and basketball, and fans have learned inflation rates. The more logical among us understand that times differ and not all box scores are equal. However, baseball purists fetishize stats, which is funny because there’s a new formula every season to prove who’s the best player, and we’re told the typical numbers we enjoy on the back of baseball cards don’t are more important. If the old metrics are obsolete, why do you care so much?
What if the ball flies further? It’s harder than ever to make solid contact as each team has four to five flamethrowers with a change of Mario Baseball in their back pocket. Roll back the mound, something, anything, to bring typing into the modern era.
When asked why MLB made all the changes, Manfred said, “The short answer is the fans.” That’s great. I just don’t think the concessions necessary to appease the Ritalin-riddled masses would be accepted because baseball history is on an unreachable pedestal. There is no way to restore the old MLB. Let’s go. The batters didn’t even try to take advantage of the change and still hit enough to give Mad Dog an aneurysm. And after? Are we going to regulate launch angles?
This fan service is nice, but I’m not sure the bigger issue affecting the game – the outsized advantage for pitchers – has been properly addressed. Whether the fans allow these changes to happen is up to them, because MLB isn’t going to drag a group of people, who are already kicking and screaming, into the contemporary era.
Accept it or go teach little leaguers how to hit.