Eric Hartline - USA TODAY Sports

A proposed rule change by Major League Baseball would have ruined the ending of a great game for Lehigh Valley

A proposed rule change by Major League Baseball again looks to tinker with the basics of the game. Of the two rule changes being proposed, one would have negated a wild finish to an IronPigs game this week and the other is just flat out wrong.

Jayson Stark of ESPN reported that Major League Baseball is looking at two potential rule changes that could go into effect as soon as next season. The first change would move the bottom of the strike zone up, while the second would allow teams to give an intentional walk without having to throw a pitch.

https://twitter.com/jaysonst/status/734028538244935680

Baseball's Competition Committee approved the changes at the owner's meetings this week, but they would need to be approved by the Rules Committee prior to being implemented for next season. The Player's Union would not need to give their blessing, since the CBA does not allow the players to have a significant voice on such rule changes. Of course, with the current CBA ending this year, it could well come up as part of the discussion.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has changed the focus from pace of game to what he calls pace of "action." By allowing teams to simply have the umpires wave the batter to first, the next hitter would come to the plate quicker and move the "action" along. After all, watching four balls thrown out of the strike zone isn't the most exciting thing to witness.

Ironically, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs won a game this week that wouldn't have happened with the change to intentional walks. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Lehigh Valley had runners on second and third with nobody out. Syracuse decided to walk pinch-hitter Brock Stassi intentionally to load the bases, setting up a force at home. The first wide pitch went without incident, but the second one sailed to the backstop. Darnell Sweeney, the runner on third, saw the wild pitch and took off for the plate to score the winning run as the IronPigs beat the Chiefs 5-4. If the new rule is instituted, that ending would be rewritten.

Granted, that situation is rare, but it can happen. The break in action for an intentional walk is small and the rule change won't save much time, nor will it get back to the "action" so quickly that it will draw fans to the game. 

The proposal to change the strike zone from "the hollow beneath the kneecap" to the top of the batter's knees is messing with simple basics of baseball. The proposal comes from a sharp increase in the number of taken pitches that have been called strikes in recent years. Umpires have been more apt to call low strikes than they were in the past, which has led to the increase. 

ESPN Stats and Info provided the following chart to show the increase.

https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/733896381652291584

The issue with changing the strike zone is more with simply making umpires enforce the current strike zone. When the Questec system was introduced into stadiums years ago, fans were told it was a tool to help work with umpires to improve consistency in calling strikes. Whatever happened to that idea? And what happens if umpires start calling more outside pitches strikes or higher pitches strikes? Will the solution be to again change the strike zone or even widen the plate? It shouldn't be. It should be to simply get umpires to call a strike a strike and a ball a ball. If they can't do that, then maybe they can find another umpire to take their place who can do that.

Games evolve and rules changes in any sport are many times a good idea. To mess with the very basics of the game, like the strike zone, is simply wrong. What's next, a change in the distance between bases? Probably not, because that would cost owners money to redo the fields. Maybe we should just shorten the game to seven innings. Hey, there's one way to make the game shorter, but that won't happen because owners will lose money from two extra innings of concessions and almighty TV networks will lose money from less advertising. Instead, Major League Baseball chooses to tinker with the basics of the game rather than taking on another sacred institution; the umpires union.


Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories

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Baseball's Competition Committee approved the changes at the owner's meetings this week, but they would need to be approved by the Rules Committee prior to being implemented for next season. The Player's Union would not need to give their blessing, since the CBA does not allow the players to have a significant voice on such rule changes. Of course, with the current CBA ending this year, it could well come up as part of the discussion.

\n

Commissioner Rob Manfred has changed the focus from pace of game to what he calls pace of \"action.\" By allowing teams to simply have the umpires wave the batter to first, the next hitter would come to the plate quicker and move the \"action\" along. After all, watching four balls thrown out of the strike zone isn't the most exciting thing to witness.

\n

Ironically, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs won a game this week that wouldn't have happened with the change to intentional walks. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Lehigh Valley had runners on second and third with nobody out. Syracuse decided to walk pinch-hitter Brock Stassi intentionally to load the bases, setting up a force at home. The first wide pitch went without incident, but the second one sailed to the backstop. Darnell Sweeney, the runner on third, saw the wild pitch and took off for the plate to score the winning run as the IronPigs beat the Chiefs 5-4. If the new rule is instituted, that ending would be rewritten.

\n

Granted, that situation is rare, but it can happen. The break in action for an intentional walk is small and the rule change won't save much time, nor will it get back to the \"action\" so quickly that it will draw fans to the game. 

\n

The proposal to change the strike zone from \"the hollow beneath the kneecap\" to the top of the batter's knees is messing with simple basics of baseball. The proposal comes from a sharp increase in the number of taken pitches that have been called strikes in recent years. Umpires have been more apt to call low strikes than they were in the past, which has led to the increase. 

\n

ESPN Stats and Info provided the following chart to show the increase.

\n

https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/733896381652291584

\n

The issue with changing the strike zone is more with simply making umpires enforce the current strike zone. When the Questec system was introduced into stadiums years ago, fans were told it was a tool to help work with umpires to improve consistency in calling strikes. Whatever happened to that idea? And what happens if umpires start calling more outside pitches strikes or higher pitches strikes? Will the solution be to again change the strike zone or even widen the plate? It shouldn't be. It should be to simply get umpires to call a strike a strike and a ball a ball. If they can't do that, then maybe they can find another umpire to take their place who can do that.

\n

Games evolve and rules changes in any sport are many times a good idea. To mess with the very basics of the game, like the strike zone, is simply wrong. What's next, a change in the distance between bases? Probably not, because that would cost owners money to redo the fields. Maybe we should just shorten the game to seven innings. Hey, there's one way to make the game shorter, but that won't happen because owners will lose money from two extra innings of concessions and almighty TV networks will lose money from less advertising. Instead, Major League Baseball chooses to tinker with the basics of the game rather than taking on another sacred institution; the umpires union.

","mobileBody":"

Jayson Stark of ESPN reported that Major League Baseball is looking at two potential rule changes that could go into effect as soon as next season. The first change would move the bottom of the strike zone up, while the second would allow teams to give an intentional walk without having to throw a pitch.

https://twitter.com/jaysonst/status/734028538244935680

Baseball's Competition Committee approved the changes at the owner's meetings this week, but they would need to be approved by the Rules Committee prior to being implemented for next season. The Player's Union would not need to give their blessing, since the CBA does not allow the players to have a significant voice on such rule changes. Of course, with the current CBA ending this year, it could well come up as part of the discussion.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has changed the focus from pace of game to what he calls pace of \"action.\" By allowing teams to simply have the umpires wave the batter to first, the next hitter would come to the plate quicker and move the \"action\" along. After all, watching four balls thrown out of the strike zone isn't the most exciting thing to witness.

Ironically, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs won a game this week that wouldn't have happened with the change to intentional walks. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Lehigh Valley had runners on second and third with nobody out. Syracuse decided to walk pinch-hitter Brock Stassi intentionally to load the bases, setting up a force at home. The first wide pitch went without incident, but the second one sailed to the backstop. Darnell Sweeney, the runner on third, saw the wild pitch and took off for the plate to score the winning run as the IronPigs beat the Chiefs 5-4. If the new rule is instituted, that ending would be rewritten.

Granted, that situation is rare, but it can happen. The break in action for an intentional walk is small and the rule change won't save much time, nor will it get back to the \"action\" so quickly that it will draw fans to the game.

The proposal to change the strike zone from \"the hollow beneath the kneecap\" to the top of the batter's knees is messing with simple basics of baseball. The proposal comes from a sharp increase in the number of taken pitches that have been called strikes in recent years. Umpires have been more apt to call low strikes than they were in the past, which has led to the increase.

ESPN Stats and Info provided the following chart to show the increase.

https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/733896381652291584

The issue with changing the strike zone is more with simply making umpires enforce the current strike zone. When the Questec system was introduced into stadiums years ago, fans were told it was a tool to help work with umpires to improve consistency in calling strikes. Whatever happened to that idea? And what happens if umpires start calling more outside pitches strikes or higher pitches strikes? Will the solution be to again change the strike zone or even widen the plate? It shouldn't be. It should be to simply get umpires to call a strike a strike and a ball a ball. If they can't do that, then maybe they can find another umpire to take their place who can do that.

Games evolve and rules changes in any sport are many times a good idea. To mess with the very basics of the game, like the strike zone, is simply wrong. What's next, a change in the distance between bases? Probably not, because that would cost owners money to redo the fields. Maybe we should just shorten the game to seven innings. Hey, there's one way to make the game shorter, but that won't happen because owners will lose money from two extra innings of concessions and almighty TV networks will lose money from less advertising. Instead, Major League Baseball chooses to tinker with the basics of the game rather than taking on another sacred institution; the umpires union.

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