Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bad omen: The lords of baseball are back to tinkering

One of the coolest moments of 2017 came when Gary Sanchez tomahawked a ball nearly over his head, blasting it to the wall in left-center, turning an attempted intentional walk into a sac fly. The crowd went nuts. I vaulted from my couch. By far, one of the highlights of the season. A legend was being born.

Now, kiss it goodbye. In a ludicrous attempt to speed up the game, the tiny-fingered lords of baseball have taken it upon themselves to eliminate the intentional pass. From now on, instead of requiring a pitcher to throw four balls, a manager will make a hand signal, and the batter will stroll to first base. We will save a minute.

Let me outline the stupidity of this in four lobbed pitches.

1. It won't speed up anything. An intentional walk takes about 60 seconds and occurs once in every 2.6 games. This is progress? The reason games go so long is the concrete dead zones of commercials that are stuffed between half-innings and pitching changes. Want to shrink the game? Require pitchers to be warmed up when reaching the mound. Or cut commercials. Why are intentional walks banned? Easy. The lords never monetized them.

2. It won't boost excitement. Intentional walks come in crisis moments, with a big hitter at the plate and a pitcher slightly unhinged. The game is on the line. The crowd is standing. The on-deck batter is glaring over this clear sign of disrespect.This is the theater of baseball at its best. This is crunch time. These are NOT the moments you cut. 

3. Mistakes do get made. Balls get thrown in the dirt - or too close to the plate. Sanchez's ball electrified Yankee Stadium. Now... nothing? Unbelievable.

4. It's a sign of obsessive tinkering - generally a bad thing. Look at the NFL. Every year, the football lords tweak the game, creating confusion. Yet the games only get longer - mostly because video replays practically require lawyers to rule on infractions. Baseball didn't tinker with time-cherished rules. Until now, that is.

And they actually are pondering starting extra inning games with runners on base. Insane.


KD said...

This is truly terrible. I remember watching a game in my youth (probably post season) with Johnny Bench at the plate. Tough out to say the least. at some point in the count, the decision was made to intentionally walk him. The catcher stood, stuck out his glove, and Bench relaxed, expecting the free pass. But that didn't happen.

Instead, the catcher slipped back into position and the pitcher threw a strike. Bench just stood there. He was out! My jaw dropped. UNBELIEVABLE!

the fact this this event is one of my all time favorite baseball memories shouldn't be discounted, and yet it has. and now IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.


Blind Robin said...


John M said...

Joe Torre is a jerk. Although local, he is no bargain.

The Ghost of Yankees Past said...

John M,

Joe Torre is a good man in many ways . Why can't you disagree with him without getting personal ?

13bit said...

Torre lost me after the midge game with Joba. "Jerk" is an objective term when talking about someone in a position of authority. It's only an epithet in the bedroom. Also, what does "good man" really mean? Really? He's a jerk.

Alphonso said...

I hope they don't go along in the national league, just as they forbade the " designated hitter "option.

Then, we'll still have baseball.

Anonymous said...

I still feel Joe Torre is a basically good man, who, from time to time, has come up with some "jerky" ideas....
Also, I would remind you that Joe said afterwards that that midge game, and his failure to take the team off the field, was his greatest regret as a manager. People make mistakes, and people can learn from them.
If Joe's idea fall flat, I think he will move on, and learn from them.
Further, there is his "Safe At Home" foundation - - which, as far as I can tell, is needed and useful to many women & children. No, I wouldn't call him a jerk. He's getting old - - like me - - maybe his ideas are clouded by ageing problems....Hoo noze?? LB (No J)

Anonymous said...

P.S.: The only options which will get implemented to shorten games will have to satisfy the owners' cartel, AND the players' association - - that will equal virtually nothing useful, because one, or the other, won't agree to anything constructive or useful.
Wouldn't surprise me if some actual jerk-lawyers are behind some of this....lawyers like the Amazing Randy - - whome we all hold in such affection & esteem. LB (No J)

KD said...

Perhaps in National League parks, the manager can call for an automatic strikeout for their pitcher if they don't want to risk him during an at-bat or on the bases.

Remember Chien-Ming Wang? wouldn't he have been better off striking out automatically?

now that we have no consistent 4-balls-take-your-base, why have a consistent 3-strikes-you're-out? a lot of pitchers are automatic strikeouts anyhow. Let's save a couple more milliseconds!

I want a fee should MLB adopt this practice. you listening Joey?

Der Kaiser said...

Genius! Rob Manfred has successfully reduced the amount of time I will spend watching his product. I assume this idiotic change also applies in minor league games?

Anonymous said...

This automatic walk brought to you by good folks you brought you season 7 of The Walking Dead.

John M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.