In our latest edition of FanPost Friday, we asked you, if you had the power and authority to unilaterally alter one MLB rule, what would you change? This one sparked a lot of discussions, not only in the form of the seven FanPosts we received, but also in the comments of some of those FanPosts. Apparently, many of us would say to baseball: “We love you just the way you are, but we love you too much to let you stay the same.”
Amaris was apparently waiting for this prompt, seeing as the post went up just a couple of hours after the prompt and his rule change is as simple as it is controversial: RoboUmps. There’s plenty of research referenced in the post (with citations!) and some math driving home the point that it is not only crucial we get the calls right, but we have the ability to do so.
My point continues to be that we do not have to deal with this. Players do not have to deal with this. We don't have to see the stare down of umpires or the catchers hanging out after their ABs to make sure our pitchers will get the same call the next inning. The technology already exists and it is significantly more likely we will see it implemented than not at some point in the future, lets make it happen!
I don’t have to tell you it’s a good read: the FanPost quickly spawned a good discussion in the comments.
One thing I especially appreciated was how Amaris pointed out some of the secondary benefits, like improving the pace of play, which was apparently a concern for a few folks here. One suggestion came from fluffysheep, who wants to see pitching mound visits limited. Many of the suggestions here have been well debated before, but this suggestion caught my attention simply because I’m not sure I’ve seen it anywhere else before:
To take this farther, have the umpire jog out to the mound along with the catcher, whenever the catcher visits the mound. If the umpire judges that the purpose of the conversation is not a bona fide discussion of strategy but instead is primarily for purposes of stalling, a ball shall be called, and if the catcher does not return to the catcher's box, a walk shall be issued.
Teams may cry foul, but it could work. Another poster, doranimo (who shed the luker label to “chime in”), wants to see the rules regarding pitching changes improved as well. Limited the number of times a team can make a pitching change has been controversial because there are so many situations you can’t account for. Rather than eliminate mid-inning replacements altogether, doranimo suggests a more measured approach.
Allow only, say, 2 mid-inning pitching changes per team for the first 9 innings of the game. In extra innings, 1 mid-inning pitching change per every 2 innings. This would decrease the aggravating dead time, and at the penultimate parts of the game when the viewer interest is the highest.
Also, anyone who suggests bringing back the golf carts for pitching changes is good in my book. The main benefit would be limiting time for commercial breaks, something JFK (jrockies) feels would be the easiest way to pick up the pace of play. Rather than every half inning, how about commercial breaks just between innings?
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.
JFK has two other proposals (did you know the check swing isn’t actually defined by the rule book?), but you’d be better served to read the full post than to have me try to summarize here.
Another resident lurker, kumasama, rose up to offer a pertinent rule change from the other side of the globe (good morning, Japan!). Noting all the faults in the replay system, kumasama suggests a very straightforward solution:
Review every play. Automatically. With strict time limits. Every reviewable call on the field starts a review clock. The reviewers have 15 seconds to confirm the call. If they can't confirm, they get a further 15 seconds. If they can't confirm or overturn within 30 seconds total, it's "close enough" for the call to stand.
Some of you had more straightforward recommendations. Binkysguy suggested that the balk call needs to include “when a lefty pitcher lifts his leg and then throws to first.” Deceptively simple, seeing as nobody except Bob Davidson seems to know what a balk is.
Finally, Paleface Destro commits National League Fan Doctrine heresy by suggesting the designated hitter should be adopted across baseball. I don’t know about the plausibility of the suggestion overall, but this portion of the post really made me chuckle:
Think about it, how many times does a pitcher (almost always the starter) bat during a game in a NL park? Once or twice (maybe)? It seems like that spot is seeing a pinch hitter as often as it's seeing the player occupying the position. So, really...that's just the burner phone version of the DH!
And now I can’t help but picture former Rockies pinch hitter extraordinaire Jason Giambi making a deal on the phone with Walter White.
Thanks again to all of our FanPosters for participating in our latest FanPost Friday prompt. Be sure to check out this week’s prompt on your favorite (or most despised) traditions.
Which rule changes here would you most like to see? Are there any others you would add?