This offseason, Major League Baseball has adopted some rule changes that will clearly change the game: limited instant replay and prohibiting plate collisions.
Get the call right. Blown calls have cost teams wins, playoff spots, and championships (yes, “for want of a nail”). I’m sure the umpires involved feel some shame & guilt. The downside is not all plays are reviewable. The stoppage of play for the video review should have little impact on the pace of the game. We’re used to the delay caused by repeated pickoff attempts and some players’ refusal to stay in the batter’s box. Besides, it’s about time we integrated some nonintrusive technology into the game. Next, let’s get those sensors on the ball and get the strike zone right and consistent, too.
Banning Plate Collisions
I’ve decided I’m OK with this one. Preventing injuries is enough to justify this change. First, these plays are rare, so we’re not really losing much. Second, being able to score as a result of a collisions was really a cheap cheater kind of move anyway. Think about it this way: the ball already beat you to the plate, the catcher caught it, and the tag is certain. You should be out. You lost on that play fair & square. Instead, under the old rule, you could be safe if you could somehow knock the ball out of the catchers grasp somehow. It does seem like a cheater move.
Now, it did add some excitement to the play at the plate: will the catcher be able to hold on? This rule change takes away an exciting play. I think this give baseball an opportunity (or excuse) to compensate for this loss by taking on another rule change that would add more excitement. Fans will love it.
The Live Fly Ball
This one simple change would make the game much more exciting. It’s a more natural change than a Designated Hitter.
- A fly ball caught in fair territory is not an out.
Let that one sink in, then imagine the possibilities. What is more exciting: a fly out to left or an outfielder throwing out the runner trying to stretch it to a double? Right now we’ve got outfielders casually waiting for the sky high pop-up to fall easily into their glove, then gently tossing the ball back to the mound. What if he had to try to throw someone out every time?
A corollary to the live fly ball rule: a fly ball caught by the defender from foul territory is an out. Imagine the outfielder concentrating on keeping his toes behind the line before he dives forward reaching as far as he can to make the catch deep in the corner.
Now, of course this makes it a lot easier to get on base, so scoring would be way up for awhile. There would be a premium on groundball pitchers, strong arms, and speed. I’d like to see someone film an exhibition with this rule. Upload it to YouTube & send me the link.