Graphic by Chelsea Wood

New MLB Rules Come Out of Left Field

MLB rule changes go against what the game is all about

MLB rule changes go against what the game is all about

America’s pastime. The phrase has become synonymous all over Major League Baseball. As baseball evolves into new seasons, rules are being implemented in an effort to quicken the game and appeal to a younger audience. Many of the rules aren’t too debilitating to the way the game is played, but several key rule changes will do more harm than good.

There are the more radical, long-term rules like getting rid of the shift or implementing a pitch clock, and then there are the more pressing rules like forcing pitchers to face a minimum of three batters and totally changing up the structure of the postseason.

Three-batter minimum rule:

Baseball is all about strategy. One of these strategies involves using a left-handed reliever to get one or two batters out and then bring in another reliever to close out an inning or game. A new rule, which will go into effect beginning this upcoming season, will make it so all relievers need to face at least three batters before being able to leave the mound.

On its own website, MLB called the rule an effort to reduce the number of pitching changes and cut down the average length of the game.

On the surface, it seems MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and his entourage are making the game run more smoothly. Digging a little deeper reveals that this is far from the truth.

Again, baseball revolves around strategy. To mess with the strategy of the game is to play with fire—a big, multi-billion dollar fire. As Sports Illustrated put it, “Messing with strategy to attempt to solve a pace of game problem is a wrong-headed approach.”

Take the San Francisco Giants for example. In the 2010s, they would frequently use left-handed relievers like Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt to get critical outs against left-handed batters.

If the three-batter minimum rule was ushered in back then, it would’ve been a different ballgame for all involved. The Giants may not have even won all three of their World Series titles.

Bringing in the new rule would not only be a strategist’s nightmare, but also would fail to accomplish the initial goal to make the game go faster. It’s an odd rule all around, and other stats weren’t taken into account before its inception.

Altered postseason structure:

The details of the new postseason format are very intricate, but to put it in broad terms, the number of teams in both leagues making it to the postseason would increase from five to seven. Opportunities to automatically advance to the next round and manually pick their opponents on a live television show would come to fruition.

No words can describe the sheer ridiculousness of these new postseason rules. It seems as if Rob Manfred has lost his mind.

Baseball is already becoming a money-grab reality TV show. The powers that be don’t need to add insult to injury.

The point of the postseason is only a select few make it in, and an even smaller number move on to higher rounds without weird caveats. Luckily, these new postseason rules are just proposals, as they would destroy baseball from the inside out.

Yet again, baseball has been and should continue to be about enjoying the game for what it is and not trying to throw curveballs into the mix. These rules are ambitious, but aren’t beneficial to anyone except the people at the very top of the totem pole. It’s in the best interest of Rob Manfred and his cohort to leave the game alone and stay faithful to the notion of baseball being America’s Pastime.

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