(LM Otero/Associated Press)

MLB Experimenting With Rules In Minors…Again

Today, baseball purists got a slew of good news. MLB has once again decided to experiment with the rules of baseball for 2021 in the minor leagues. One major rule change being enacted at the AA level is a no-shift rule. Another is an increased base size to encourage more success when stealing bases. According to MLB, AA teams will be required to: 

“Have a minimum of four players on the infield, each of whom must have both feet completely in front of the outer boundary of the infield dirt.” 

Essentially what MLB and Commissioner Rob Manfred are saying is that if you are a one-dimensional hitter, you can stay that way because the game is less interesting when you ground out to the first baseman for the 100th time. Clearly, these experiments come in a feeble attempt to make the game more watchable, but the league is going to have to do a lot more than that. 

Baseball is one of the most traditional sports to date in the country, and guys like Manfred are why it stays stagnant year after year. The majority of standard MLB hitters now either strikeout or hit a dinger, with very little room in between. The league thinks fans want to see more home runs, but maybe fans just want to see more hitting. 

Rob Manfred Wants To Kill Baseball

I know, these rule changes in the minors do not necessarily mean that they will be applied at the major league level, but it sure seems that MLB wants that to be the endgame. Even some of the experiments made in 2020 were questionable. At least, Michael Hill, MLB’s senior VP of on-field operations certainly wants to see fewer shifts and more steals. Rather, that’s what he thinks fans want.

“We are listening to our fans. This effort is an important step towards bringing to life rules changes aimed at creating more action and improving the pace of play,” said Michael Hill, MLB’s senior vice president of on-field operations and the former GM of the Miami Marlins.

Other experiments that will continue in the minors include pitch clocks in the Low-A West, pickoff limits in the low-A leagues, a step-off rule that forces pitchers to fully disengage with runners before pickoffs in high-A, and the remarkable ‘robot’ umpires in the Low-A Southeast league.

Okay, the pitch clocks I can maybe understand. They increase the pace of play and help make the sport less ‘boring’ for casual fans. But to me, canceling shifts is not the answer. A guy who can only hit to one side shouldn’t be a professional hitter anyway, so why should the league cater to those kinds of hitters? How about you stop worrying about your launch angle and just focus on putting the bat on the ball as they teach you in tee-ball? Oh yeah, and Rob Manfred, maybe you should put a DH in the NL while you’re at it and stop giving free outs to NL teams and inflating pitcher’s stats on the mound?