FanPost

FPF: Commercials, Check Swings, and All-Star Rosters

Major League Baseball has a constantly changing rule book, although most of the changes are minor. I have a copy from 2007 the replay rules and pitcher warm-up clock are not incorporated. I'm sure there have been other changes that I can't remember but the prompt is asking about the changes I would like to see, not what has changed since 2007.

The strike zone has been discussed by Arimaris, replay by kumasama (my thoughts can also be found in the thread), balks by Binkysguy, and the DH by Paleface Destro. Here are three rules I would like to see changed or altered:

1) Since the length of games is a major issue, and MLB is passing it off as pace of play, I think there is a simple solution. Commercial breaks only between innings, and not every half inning. This would take us back to the "good old days" when players went out to their positions and the game kept going. Everything I've heard is that games from the pre-television era would last about 2 hours. By removing commercials the players would keep moving and the "pace" would be faster. I realize that this would hurt the programming budget but, hey, that's not the point of the rule change.

As an additional change it also adds an advantage to the home team because they would, seemingly, get a commercial break to take their time getting on the field after hitting while visitors don't get to "relax" between hitting and hitting the field. A rule change would help the fans stay engaged a little longer as many do not have a three hour attention span. This also allows fans who work to get to a game on time and possibly get home without the clock striking midnight (or 11:00pm). A second option here, of course, would be to cut the commercial times in general but I think a radical change that gives a home field advantage is the best option.

(Commercials can still be instituted during in-inning pitching changes, on-field injuries, and rain/weather delays.)

2) A controversial rule that is not actually a rule is the check swing. On a daily basis we see players get ready to swing at a pitch only to stop themselves halfway (hopefully without injury) because they realize they don't want to swing. The pitch is either a ball or something the batter cannot put in play in a meaningful way. However, the pitcher and catcher think that the batter swung at the pitch and ask the home plate umpire to get a second opinion. The umpire then points at the first (or third) base umpire and asks, "Did he go?" Normally the umpire replies (with a safe indication), "He did not." Sometimes the umpire raises his fist to indicate that the batter took a swing at the pitch even if he tried to hold up and a strike is called.

The check swing is not defined in the rule book and it never has been. There is a comment to Rule 8.02(c) that defines the process of calling a strike or ball on a "half swing" but it is not mentioned anywhere else in the rule book. When announcers show us (fans) overhead cameras or the baseline view they try to prove that the batter either did or did not swing at the ball. There are times when the batter tries to swing and stops before the bat crosses any part of the plate and there are other times when the batter swings and the bat does cross the white but he is able to stop the bat from moving forward. In other instances a batter loads and is getting ready to swing (he only has .4 seconds) and the ball is up and in causing the batter to spin out of the way with the bat crossing home plate without any intent to swing. I have seen all of these instances called strikes and balls.

With all of the uncertainty that case let's try to clearly define when the "half swing" should be considered a strike. 1) The batter must swing the bat with the intention of hitting the ball. 2) If the bat crosses any portion of the plate during the swing attempt a strike will be called.

These two clarifications remove the concept of a check swing. The batter either tried to swing or he didn't. If the batter is moving in a defensive way to avoid being struck by the ball there is no swing. In addition this forces batters to make the decision early and commit to a swing which would generally result in weak contact or a swing-and-miss. If there are fewer check swings the action doesn't stop and the batter is in a hole. More strikes move the game along.

3) Roster size is always under consideration for changing. Recently there were discussions about adding a 26th man to the roster. I personally have no opinion on this topic. What I do have an opinion on is the All-Star game roster size. Because the game is not important any more (thank goodness) my disdain for the selection process and roster size is diminished but not my much.

Every year it seems that players are elected to the game and can't participate for various reasons: they are injured, they pitched two days before, and they choose not to participate. In these instances more players are selected to the game. There is always some debate about player X being snubbed for some other player. A lot of times a shortstop can't play a first baseman or outfielder is added in his place because "he's deserving." If he was deserving then he should have been on the roster before.

I propose a 40-man (35 is fine) all-star roster to be finalized the week before the game. The starters are still elected by the fans and the players vote in the second at each position. This still is only 18 players excluding the worthy pitchers. The manager gets to round out the team. I think the manager should choose his players with the knowledge of who is currently healthy or injured to make sure everyone on the roster has a viable backup. After the roster is finalized (pitchers included) it can't be changed. No one can be added if another injury happens because the manager should have accounted for injuries and starting pitchers who can't pitch. It always bothers me when someone gets to be an "all-star" only because someone else was injured, but that person does not directly replace the injured player. It's only one game, a 35 or 40-man roster should cover you.

If you have any changes or suggestions regarding these proposals comment. I'm curious to see what others think.

Eat. Drink. Be Merry. But the above FanPost does not necessarily reflect the attitudes, opinions, or views of Purple Row's staff (unless, of course, it's written by the staff [and even then, it still might not]).

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