An Open Letter to the MLB Commissioner

Commissioner Manfred,

Congratulations, you have not picked any personal vendettas with any players (I’m looking at you Mr Selig and your obsession with Alex Rodriguez).

Pete Rose working with FOX at the 2015 World Series. Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Congrats, you have handled the Pete Rose circumstance very well, and I do believe you’ll eventually allow the hit king back in.

Congrats, Mr Manfred you and the MLBPA agreed to a new CBA and continue to be the only Professional Sports League in North America to not have a strike in this century.

But Commissioner Manfred, your fascination with pace of play and the current state of baseball, it’s concerning. Outside of the evolution of athletes, equipment, and technology the game of baseball has, for the most part, stayed the same since its inception.

But you insist on changing the game, you insist on changing the rules that have been in the game for so long.

I do not disagree with you that many games tend to drag on and seem too long. But that does not hinder my affection for the game. The beauty of baseball is that it is a game within a game, every player and manager is playing a chess match between pitches, at bats, and innings. A minimalist fan may not understand the beauty to that and think wow this is taking such a long time’ but to even an average fan they understand the silent communication and thought process going on all over the field. Catcher to pitcher on signs, manager to third base coach to batter and/or runner.

I digress though with my fixation for the game and its silent strategies and ignore the point of my address to you. Quite simply an effort to change the rules are not what is needed.

Intentional walks! That is your big idea to shorten games at the moment. That is just ridiculous.

35 seconds is saved because we can now not throw four pitches.

Of course, these plays are usually random and out of nowhere but do they not affect the game when they happen? Of course, they do. The video shows that intentional walks are not always a “gimme” for the team in the field, as the execution of the play still needs to occur for the intentional walk to be successful, but we are now removing the execution of the four pitches to instead assume that all four balls would have been thrown perfectly.

On to another point Mr Manfred, the pitch clock being used in the minor leagues is another idea that seems logical. Although, I do not see what punishments could be handed out other than fines for possibly violating the pitch clock. To give a player a free ball would be horrible, now you would eliminate a pitch that sets up an entire at bat. To throw a player out for not throwing a ball is even more ridiculous.

Maybe, it is best to keep that in the MiLB and allow younger players to adapt to throwing the next pitch in 20 seconds or less.

A pitch clock in a MiLB game.
Photo courtesy of MiLB

Commissioner, I just saw that you had suggested possibly making shorter commercial breaks, and I think you have found a winner! Had I not seen this article prior to writing this it would have been my suggestion. Although, I do not have the ability to crunch the numbers on this but I would imagine shortening commercial breaks would drive prices for the remaining commercial time up. Or as Forbes suggests in an article concerning shorter commercial breaks, even more, on-field advertising.

A clock showing the time in between innings. Courtesy of ESPN

Personally, I think this is the best idea. Current non-nationally televised games are supposed to have 2 minutes and 5 seconds between innings, if you were to shorten the break even by thirty seconds that would be one minute less per inning. That’s 8 and a half minutes for games that go a full nine innings! Much more than the 35 seconds you save from throwing four consecutive balls.

My final dilemma with suggestions you have made is been the idea to ban shifts. Shifts are essential to the game! Defenses should have the ability like they do now to adjust to situations and force hitters to adjust to the defense. “Hit em’ where they ain’t!” 

Banning shifts would be like banning football teams from changing the play at the line of scrimmage or banning basketball teams from changing their defense to stop another teams offense or the NHL banning defenses from blocking shots in front of the goalie.

All of the ideas listed above are just nonsense, so why would MLB institute a rule that would be equally nonsensical.

It is the youth we need to make baseball attractive for again. Photo courtesy of YouTube

Commissioner, the game is fine the way it is, I believe there are adjustments that can be made but they are not directly connected to the game. You are a very knowledgeable man, and I have faith you will figure it out sooner than later.

You understand the game needs modernization to attract the youth again because after all, it is their attention where the numbers are dwindling. The future of baseball and the current state the game is in right now, and only you can put your stamp on the game and make it as great as it can be.

Sincerely,

Charles Flug

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