In 2015, MLB began threatening to fine any batter who stepped out of the batter's box in the middle of an at-bat. This is understandable, but I still don’t love this idea. While I don’t love watching Dustin Pedroia undo and redo the velcros on his batting gloves 4-5 times between pitches, these routines are a part of baseball’s culture. Throughout my childhood games of wiffle ball, you were imitating the windups of Mariano Rivera, Dontrelle Willis, and Mike Myers, the batting stances of A-Rod, Ortiz, and Gary Sheffield, and most importantly, you were stepping out of box 100% of the time to spit on each hand and clap them together. Because that’s what Papi did. Taking these small things out of the game may seem like a great way to increase efficiency, but it takes away from the cultural aspect of the game that connects fans all over the world.
The changes that baseball is making may seem major, but they aren’t going to change the game enough to attract new fans. All these rule changes are going to do is piss off people like me who have enjoyed watching the game the way that it was meant to be played. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t consider myself to be a baseball purist. I support instant replay as a whole, I think that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be in the Hall of Fame, and I’m not one of the “crusty old white dudes” that are stereotyped as the only ones who don’t want the game to change. Maybe this is just the nostalgia kicking in, but I want today’s kids to be able to experience the game the same way that I did. Today’s game of baseball is not the same as what your parents watched, and with the rapid pace at which the MLB has changed, it’s not even the same game that your older siblings watched. What I’m truly afraid of is that before long, it will no longer be the game that we all fell in love with.