Baseball’s coming, with some new rules

end of the designated hitter

minor league baseballBaseball’s coming, and I’m happy. Actually, it’s more the absence of the negative. I was less excited by the return of the “National Pastime” than annoyed by its potential suspension.

And there are experimental rules rolling out for the 2022 season in Minor League Baseball. Not for all leagues but usually the majority. “Many experimental rules were first tested on a limited basis in 2021.” Most I think are fine. But one I rather despise.

PITCH TIMER: “On-field timers will be used… to enforce regulations designed to create a crisp pace of play, with batters required to be ready to hit and pitchers required to deliver the pitch within allotted periods of time. With runners on base, pitchers will have additional allotted time for each pitch but will risk automatic baserunner advancement if a third pick-off attempt or step-off within the same plate appearance is made without recording an out.”

This is a really good idea. Pitchers and batters take too much time fussing. A half dozen throws by the pitcher to keep the runner close is BORING.

LARGER BASES: “The size of first, second, and third base will be increased from 15 inches square to 18 inches square… to reduce player injuries.”

This may minimize collisions at first between the fielder and the batter. And the change appears to modestly increase stolen bases, which is a fine thing.

AUTOMATED BALL-STRIKE (“ABS”): “In select games…, ABS technology will be used to call balls and strikes.”

While the purist in me is mildly unsettled, seeing so many umpires have their “own” strike zones, and worse, inconsistent ones, allows me not to hate this.

On the other hand

DEFENSIVE POSITIONING: “…the defensive team must have a minimum of four players on the infield, with at least two infielders completely on either side of second base. These restrictions on defensive positioning are intended to allow infielders to better showcase their athleticism, to increase batting average on balls in play, and to restore a more traditional set of aesthetics and outcomes on batted balls.”

Yeah, it’ll almost certainly increase batting averages. But the solution to the shift (three fielders on one side or the other of second base, is to “hit it where they ain’t.” I’m not happy with this.

On the Major League level, the new contract has finally brought the end to no designated hitter in the National League. I’m no fan of the DH. But when MLB ended up with 15 teams in each league, requiring at least one interleague game every day of the season, I knew that pitchers who bat would soon be gone. Unless they’re really good at both.

Meanwhile, see the ball attendants snag some foul balls. 

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