On the day Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the MLB and MLBPA have agreed to eliminating the 4-pitch walk, the emphasis switched quickly to what the MLBPA did not agree to. More-so, the emphasis changed to the aggressive tactic Commissioner Manfred is seemingly ready to take to get what he wants:
Major League Baseball intends to give the players’ association the required one-year advance notice that would allow management to unilaterally change the strike zone, install pitch clocks and limit trips to the pitcher’s mound starting in 2018.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement Tuesday after union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to the proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball’s labor contract, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union — unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.
Manfred said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.Associated Press
Dear Mr. Commissioner, do you know what the best thing that could happen with the strike zone to improve baseball is?
Having umpires that all called it the same way! It does not matter how you define the strike zone, if every umpire calls it differently then all you’re doing is your best impersonation of a dog trying to catch its tail (the game deserves more respect than that)! NO, this is not a criticism of the umpires! It is a reminder to everyone that they are human beings too. They do not have a *insert sponsor name* pitch tracker inside their helmet, they only have their eyes.
If you were to speak to a group of managers and players, they would all say the same thing - “as long as the umpire establishes his strike zone early and stays consistent with it, everyone works within those confines”. Baseball is not a poor sport. Invest some of that money on working with umpires to improve their games to become more consistent.
The ideas of installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the pitcher’s mound are fair BUT…
There is a much more pressing issue in the “pace-of-play”/flow of the game conversation than either of these components. The moronic practice of mindfully allowing teams to stall for time while reviewing the play to decide whether or not they want to challenge the call. Absolutely everyone in the building, including you Mr. Commissioner, knows the team considering challenging the play is blatantly stalling! How in the heck is this not the first thing you nip in the bud when talking about reducing game times.
Sure, many trips to the mound are some sort of stall tactic whether it be a few moments for your pitcher to collect himself or to give the reliever in the bullpen a few more moments to warm up but these trips are a part of the fabric of the game. Challenges on plays are still relatively new to the game.
A challenge should be a heat of the moment decision, much like the original call made on the field by the umpire. It is pretty much a guarantee that you will save more time in one game by making a manager’s challenge instantaneous, rather than plotted, than you will by issuing 5-10 no-pitch intentional walks. Thing is, challenges on plays are on a meteoric rise while intentional walks are on the decrease.
“I believe it’s a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change.” Rob Manfred, Associated Press
Take your head out of the sand Commissioner! Fix what’s broken with game (umpire consistency and managers delay before challenges) before messing with the fabric of the game.