Major League Baseball has made instant replay their newest target in their war on time consuming baseball games. During the 2017 season, managers will have 30 seconds to decide whether or not they want to challenge a play, and the reviewers in New York will be given 2 minutes to make a decision. While I understand what they are attempting to do by making this change, I don’t appreciate what they are doing with the game as a whole.
First, I’d like to talk about the idea of a pitch clock. It’s the dumbest fucking idea of all-time.The beauty of baseball is that there is no clock. If you have a lead, you can’t hold the ball, you can’t run the clock out, and you can’t go on the defensive. If you want to win, you have to throw the ball over the plate and give you opponent a chance to hit it. It’s all about continuously attacking. Consequently, the average length of a Major League Baseball game is approximately 3 hours. The reason why I’m not going into the minutes and seconds is because they don’t matter! If someone says they won’t watch a game that’s 3 hours and 5 minutes long, what makes them think that that person will tune in to watch a game that’s 2 hours and 53 minutes long? Nobody’s time is so valuable that a 10 minute time reduction is going to turn them into a die-hard baseball fan. The pitch clock at the minor league level makes sense to get pitchers in the habit of a quick delivery, but the thought of incorporating it at the major league level makes me want to blow my brains out.
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.