Major League Baseball is switching things up again after just one year.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that starting extra innings with runners on base and seven-inning doubleheaders are toast after this first year of implementation — and that limiting or banning the defensive shift could restore baseball to its historical roots.
Manfred made the comments while speaking to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America before the All-Star Game:
“I’m hopeful without going into the specifics of rule by rule, that we will have productive conversations with the MLBPA about — I want to use my words — non-radical changes to the game that will restore it to being played in a way that is closer to I think what many of us enjoy historically.
“Remember, the game evolves, right? What we play today don’t look all that much like 1971. And the question is, which version would you like to get to?”
Now admittedly I’m not a seamhead, I’m as casual of a baseball fan as you can get. I want to get into the sport more, but the way the game is constructed holistically just doesn’t allow me to do so. I honestly get bored way too easily watching a game. And it’s been like that forever.
And now, after baseball finally implemented some interesting changes to make games go faster and add a little more excitement, they are abandoning the effort after only one season. On top of that Manfred seems hell-bent on doing away with the shift and returning baseball to even more predictability. Does that really make sense?
“Let’s just say you regulated the shift by requiring two infielders each side of second base. What does that do? It makes the game look like what it looked like when I was 12 years old,” he said. “It’s not change. It’s kind of restoration, right? That’s why people are in favor of it. And they do believe, I think front offices in general believe it would have a positive effect on the play of the game.”
I’m not sure ALL of these changes would be positive. Some would, but others would just leave me on the outside looking in again. When I was 12, I could have cared less about the game, it didn’t hold my attention. (And don’t think the league doesn’t know it has a problem attracting younger fans.) Now as an adult, I’m trying to find my way to the sport but the sport just keeps making it harder for me.
And “non-radical” solutions hardly seem to be what’s needed to turn that around.