we have baseball!

I am delighted that the baseball impasse is behind us. I wasn’t sure what I would have done for diversion and escape from all the ills of the world after the NCAA Women’s tournament had ended. Go Stanford women! (Who are the #1 seed in the Spokane region.) But we will have baseball after all. That is a Good Thing.

Some of the coming changes, however, I am not sure that I like. Bob Nightingale, who writes about baseball for USA Today, wrote on Twitter:

Traditional baseball is also back:
No more ghost runners in extra innings.
No more 7-inning doubleheaders

He’s right about the two specifics, but I’m not sure that I agree with him that traditional baseball is back.

baseballFirst, we now have the designated hitter in the National League. Please, no. Say it ain’t so, Joe. But there it is. The DH makes the game simpler and eliminates a lot of the strategy that has long made the National League game more interesting than its American League counterpart. But then it also provides employment for aging hitters who are no longer as agile on defense as they once were.

There will now be twelve teams in the playoffs. I’m indifferent to that.

Ads are allowed on jerseys and helmets. Not a good thing.

One more rule change: A player can be optioned to the minors only five times during the season. Beyond that they would have to clear waivers. That makes sense. Last year the Dodgers made so many roster moves that they could have set up a regularly scheduled shuttle back and forth to their Triple A affiliate in Oklahoma City.

Bigger changes are possible for 2023. A committee made up of four active players, six members appointed by MLB, and one umpire will consider several changes. (Which means, effectively, that MLB can impose any of the changes since they have a majority on the committee.) Changes under consideration include:

  • Larger base size. I don’t believe I like that. It will probably mean more runs in a game and fewer outs on close plays. But then again, it could increase stolen base attempts, which would be fun.
  • A pitch clock. I definitely don’t like that. I have seen it in women’s college softball and I find it distracting.
  • Eliminating the shift. Having the third baseman on the grass between first and second base just isn’t right. So yeah, I think I like that change.
  • An electronic balls and strikes system. Are you kidding me?

Of course, there has always been change in baseball. The designated hitter was not instituted until 1973. The late, superb Oakland Athletics broadcaster Bill King once mentioned that there was a time in the late 1800s when the third base coach could tackle a runner to get him to hold at third.

What’s important, details aside, is that baseball is back. That means a lot.

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