Baseball Is Broken (on the field, proposed rule changes, attendance, etc.)

Sad Sam Jones

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May 5, 2017
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I don't know whether Karinchak is using anything on the ball or not, but he's a fidgety/quirky guy on the mound who's messing with the opponent. I watched the whole thing transpire with Baldelli and the Twins and if there was a foreign substance in his hair, the umpire certainly would have found it… that was the weirdest search I've ever seen. Afterwards, Karinchak went to his hair even more. It might be misdirection to what he's actually using, but he's getting a kick out getting into the heads of his opponents.
 

jayhoz

Ronald Bartel
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Jul 19, 2005
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I don't know whether Karinchak is using anything on the ball or not, but he's a fidgety/quirky guy on the mound who's messing with the opponent. I watched the whole thing transpire with Baldelli and the Twins and if there was a foreign substance in his hair, the umpire certainly would have found it… that was the weirdest search I've ever seen. Afterwards, Karinchak went to his hair even more. It might be misdirection to what he's actually using, but he's getting a kick out getting into the heads of his opponents.
Jomboy did a breakdown. Not sure how there could have been a substance in his hair given the search.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_ZN_Dzem-Y
 

dhappy42

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Oct 27, 2013
15,680
Michigan
After the shift ban, I think the most significant rule change is limiting pitchers to two pickoff moves per batter. Along with making the bases bigger I think it’s going to dramatically increase the number of stolen bases. (Has anyone seen this rule implemented in the minors?)

IMHO, more stolen bases are a good thing, but I’m wondering how it will (or should) affect lineup construction
 

dhappy42

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Oct 27, 2013
15,680
Michigan
Maybe I’m misunderstanding but that sounds unworkable.
Maybe I didn’t explain the rule well.

There will be a limit of two of what MLB calls disengagements—pickoff attempts or steps off the rubber—per plate appearance, and a balk would be called for a third or more unless there is an out. The disengagement limit would be reset if a runner advances.
https://www.si.com/.amp/mlb/2022/09/09/mlb-rule-changes-2023-pitch-clock-shift-ban-bigger-bases
 

Orel Miraculous

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Do we really think that the lack of stolen bases is because of fear of getting thrown out? Because the numbers show that success rates are higher than ever, even though attempts are down. Now perhaps that’s why rates are up but I question whether we will really see a big increase in SB attempts.

https://sports.betmgm.com/en/blog/mlb/stolen-bases-decline-bm15/
We're going to see an absolutely massive increase in stolen base attempts: https://theathletic.com/3604919/2022/09/19/mlb-rule-changes-pitch-clock-shift-ban/

Pickoff/stepoff limits and larger bases (18 inches-by-18 inches square, up from 15-by-15) — which shrink the distance between bases by 4 1/2 inches — have been in effect all season. And they’ve turned these games into the Penn Relays.

STOLEN BASE ATTEMPTS PER GAME

Minor leagues — 2.83
Major leagues — 1.36


Now here’s what that means: If big-league players suddenly started running at the same rate as minor-league players have this year, it would lead to a stolen-base attempt rate we haven’t seen in the major leagues in more than 100 years.
More details behind the paywall. If you're interested, pay for good journalism.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Thanks, I have a subscription so will check it out. What was the minor league stolen base average the year before the changes, though? Wouldn’t we want to apply that rate of change to the major leagues do estimate what we will see in the bigs? I would imagine either are more SB attempts in the minors to start with, before any rule changes.
 

dhappy42

Straw Man
Oct 27, 2013
15,680
Michigan
So, say you're a runner on first, you just have to draw two throws during one PA and then there's nothing stopping you from taking second base, right?
Not quite. The pitcher can still pick you off, but if he throws over a third time and doesn’t pick you off, it’s a balk. And, of course, the catcher can always throw down.
 

Mr. Stinky Esq.

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Dec 7, 2006
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Not quite. The pitcher can still pick you off, but if he throws over a third time and doesn’t pick you off, it’s a balk. And, of course, the catcher can always throw down.
Ok that's the part I was missing, that it's not a balk if it's a successful pickoff. Thanks for being patient with my apparent failure to read.

I guess I'd have to see it to really know how I feel about it but my general instinct is against rule changes in baseball.
 

dhappy42

Straw Man
Oct 27, 2013
15,680
Michigan
Ok that's the part I was missing, that it's not a balk if it's a successful pickoff. Thanks for being patient with my apparent failure to read.

I guess I'd have to see it to really know how I feel about it but my general instinct is against rule changes in baseball.
This rule change in particular seems huge to me. How it plays out on the field will be interesting. If I’m a pitcher, I only throw over when I think there’s a reasonable chance of picking off the runner. If I’m a runner, I take bigger one-way leads, trying to draw two throws to put myself in a position to draw a balk or steal second more easily. The logic of it with runners on first and third are especially interesting.
 

OfTheCarmen

Cow Humper
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Jul 18, 2007
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I also think this is going to be a big change and will result in a dramatic change in the running game. When you add in the concept of the pitch clock, if you have 2 PO attempts already and the pitcher is using most, if not all, of the pitch clock, you can easily get a crazy jump by coordinating with the clock.
 

LogansDad

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Nov 15, 2006
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As someone who finds singles more fun with a runner on second and home runs more fun with runners on base, I love both this and the shift rules.

And the pitch clock is revolutionary. Bring it.
 

The Gray Eagle

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This change could make Jaren Duran and David Hamilton a lot more valuable offensively. They would still have to get on base in order to steal (most of the time) alas.
 

Sad Sam Jones

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I'm skeptical it will immediately and drastically change the way the game is played. It just doesn't seem like teams change their ways that quickly. I'll be happy to be wrong though, because few teams are better equipped to take advantage of the new rules as much as Cleveland.

One thing I can say with certainty is that fast shitty players are still going to be shitty players. There were a few guys in the '70s and '80s who made careers out of swiping bases without much talent otherwise, but talent evaluation has come a long way in the past 40 years. You're not going to fleece another team because they suddenly think Jaren Duran is a good ballplayer. He has a plethora of issues but the difficulty level of stealing second base was never one of them, and making it easier isn't going to fix any of them.

(This reminds me of my brother-in-law's story of going over by the players lot at old Municipal Stadium in the early '80s as a kid and getting all the players to sign... except Miguel Dilone, who would wave his finger in his face and yell, "Me no give autograph!".)
 

Apisith

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I'm skeptical it will immediately and drastically change the way the game is played. It just doesn't seem like teams change their ways that quickly. I'll be happy to be wrong though, because few teams are better equipped to take advantage of the new rules as much as Cleveland.

One thing I can say with certainty is that fast shitty players are still going to be shitty players. There were a few guys in the '70s and '80s who made careers out of swiping bases without much talent otherwise, but talent evaluation has come a long way in the past 40 years. You're not going to fleece another team because they suddenly think Jaren Duran is a good ballplayer. He has a plethora of issues but the difficulty level of stealing second base was never one of them, and making it easier isn't going to fix any of them.

(This reminds me of my brother-in-law's story of going over by the players lot at old Municipal Stadium in the early '80s as a kid and getting all the players to sign... except Miguel Dilone, who would wave his finger in his face and yell, "Me no give autograph!".)
This is all true. But maybe banning the shift means Duran doesn't have to swing for the fences anymore because ground balls aren't as bad. And not swinging for the fences means less Ks, and hopefully more BBs. And then he can do more damage on the base paths because of these other changes. He's still a disaster in the field but maybe he ends up as 2-win player for a few years before he slows down.
 

Max Power

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MLB is trying to restrict position players pitching even more than they did last year.

2023 MLB rule changes - Pitch clock, end of shift and more (espn.com)

Position players pitching
The new rule: Teams will be more limited in when they can pitch a position player. The previous rule allowed them to use one when up or down by six or more runs, but the sides are discussing a tweak in which the leading team would have to be up by as many as 10 or more while the trailing team would have to be down by eight or more in order to pitch a position player. The league and players are finalizing the new rule.

What they're trying to change: The league and now even the players agree that too many position players are taking the mound over the course of the season. In fact, players believe it's having a bigger and bigger impact on production, from offensive numbers to even defensive metrics -- all of which come into play during arbitration and free agency. In 2017, there were 32 instances of position players pitching in a game. Last season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, that number jumped to 132.
What was an entertaining oddity has become something that basically happens every night. I like that they're trying to keep it under control a bit.
 

Toe Nash

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I agree with dhappy that this should be up to the managers. If you want to put your team at disadvantage in a particular game to be fresher for the future that should be up to you. Like the shifting rule I really hate the trend of taking strategic decisions away from the people who are supposed to weigh those trade-offs. This and the shifting may seem "wrong" to long-time fans but so did a lot of innovations in the game that we now accept.

I think this comes from the trend of having starters go for less innings, so pens need to be bigger. I'd much rather just have a larger roster which players should be in favor of. Or let position players pitch sometimes.

If this is affecting arbitration hearings then we have the ability to exclude stats from when players were facing a position player in those hearings. Easy. Other than messing with stats I'm not sure what other problems it's causing. These games are by definition not particularly close and teams just want to get to the end and play another day, we're not putting in a position player at a point when anyone cares too much about the outcome.
 

Sad Sam Jones

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Why not just decide on having either one or two position players on the active roster designated as 2-way players who can be used in any situation? Then you can at least have your true 2-way player like Ohtani (if it's one designated spot) and decide if you want to be more liberal about the rule and make it two spots, so a team like that could still have another for use in a blowout. With 8-man bullpens and the current extra-inning rules, the idea that it's necessary to keep the pitching staff fresh is bullshit. If the team isn't carrying a pitcher who can soak up multiple innings and has minor league options to allow him to be swapped out for a week, it's just a failure of the GM's roster building.
 

The_Dali

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Jul 2, 2021
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I don’t see the issue from a baseball game point of view.

This is all being driven by the mlbpa wanting to keep innings for “pitchers” and stat manipulation for arb hearings.

*sigh*

I saw a stat on mlb trade rumors that showed non-pitcher eta was 5.02 last year. So, again, what’s the issue?
 

canderson

Mr. Brightside
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Jul 16, 2005
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Good. I like that change a lot. Just keep it out of the playoffs.

Edit: I do wish it started after the 10th but that’s just being picky.
 
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Sad Sam Jones

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I will always hate the new extra-inning rule. I don't want rules in the regular season that everyone can agree aren't good enough to use in the playoffs... yeah, I know the reasoning, but see my previous post about failure to construct a roster properly with 8-man bullpens. It can also be fixed by allowing an extra roster spot for a number of days depending on the number of extra innings played. However, I already assumed the change was permanent, so I won't be letting it bother me again.
 

soxhop411

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IIRC this is one of the few things the MLBPA and owners agree on.. The players love the rule because it cuts down on marathon games

“We can appreciate the tradition,” one veteran pitcher, who is active in the union, told The Athletic in a text message Monday. “But I think it has worked. Games end sooner and in an exciting way. No more 18-inning games where guys get hurt or it kills your team for a week or two. Or a guy gets sent down for throwing four great innings in relief, but you need a warm body for tomorrow.”
https://theathletic.com/3183373/2022/03/14/mlb-players-union-discussing-restoring-extra-inning-ghost-runner-rule/
 

brs3

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A team really should be able to put in enough qualified pitchers to complete 9 innings of play. I'd increase the blowout to 10 runs, and if a non pitcher, non designated two way player is brought in, they lose their close play challenge. Granted they probably won't need it because it'll be the 9th inning of a blowout, but that one time a team makes a comeback and lose on a close play, they'll look like an idiot!
 

DeadlySplitter

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As a baseball purist who loves that a game can go 6+ hours at any time, I hate it.

In 2023 with the roster & player health considerations, it makes sense to move on and keep it playoffs only.
 

trs

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I will always hate the new extra-inning rule. I don't want rules in the regular season that everyone can agree aren't good enough to use in the playoffs... yeah, I know the reasoning, but see my previous post about failure to construct a roster properly with 8-man bullpens. It can also be fixed by allowing an extra roster spot for a number of days depending on the number of extra innings played. However, I already assumed the change was permanent, so I won't be letting it bother me again.
I somewhat agree, but I'm reminded of the NHL and how they have one overtime rule in the regular season and then another one for the playoffs.

One interesting thing to think about, (maybe) is how putting a runner on second base impacts individual statistics to any similar degree as when position players pitch. Time zones prevent me from following baseball live like I used to, but I have definitely had to remind myself when looking at box scores the next day about this rule. "Wow, it was 1-1 after 9 and then it ended 6-5 in 11?" Well, yeah, the chance of a 0-run inning just went from 72% to 37% in each extra inning.

Anyway, I get the reasoning behind the rule, and it's similar to other game-shortening rules we see in other sports (golden goal, shortened periods, fewer players, penalty kicks/shots, etc), and honestly it doesn't turn the game into something fundamentally different like a penalty shootout does or even a golden goal situation.
 

mauf

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Playoffs are different, but there’s no way I’m staying up past the 10th or 11th inning of a regular-season night game. The ghost runner moves things along and allows me to watch the end of the game instead of reading about it in the morning. I like it.

I feel less strongly about position players pitching. I’d like to see them resolve it whichever way is best for player safety and health — and I have no clue which way that is. As an alternative, I’d be fine with allowing a team that’s trailing by 7 runs or more in the 8th inning or later to concede the game, but I think it’s a tough sell to fans who paid to see a game in person to have that game shortened for reasons other than weather. It would also have impacts on statistics, hitting streaks, and so forth that I don’t personally care about, but I know other fans do.
 

InstaFace

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Good. I like that change a lot. Just keep it out of the playoffs.

Edit: I do wish it started after the 10th but that’s just being picky.
I'm with you although I'd have given them the 11th too. What fraction of extra inning games end by the 11th? Thought it was like 70-80%. Shorten the stragglers after that point, I buy the need there... but until then just play baseball, I say.
 

DanoooME

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The zombie runner thing will continue to artificially inflate the offense. BP did a series of articles on how much it inflated offense (10.13 RS/9 IP) ending with this article. There were 3 major factors affecting offense last year, the DH now in both leagues, zombie runners and position players pitching. Cutting back on the usage of the position players pitching will be a factor in reducing offense while the zombie runner will increase it. I think the effect of zombie runners was larger than position players pitching, so offense will probably go up slightly next year just based on those three factors.

And then we get the newest announcement that MLB is going to more closely call balks and illegal pitches. This should be a hoot. You just know the shittiest umps will be the worst at enforcing these, or overenforcing them. From the article:

Passan writes that the league has informed umpires to call a balk (or an illegal pitch resulting in an automatic ball if no one is on base) if a pitcher takes more than one step to the back or side in his windup before moving towards home plate. Certain pitchers have previously used more complicated deliveries involving multiple toe-taps or sidesteps that’ll no longer be permissible.
You just know certain pitchers and teams are going to have shit fits about this. I'll be curious to see what the outcry is and how they address it going forward. If enforcement continues at a high level, this will probably increase offense slightly as well and potentially ruin some careers.
 

Sad Sam Jones

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The runner on second needs to be officially titled the Manfred Man. It's the only redeemable thing about the rule.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Wait. An umpire is deemed to be shitty because he's enforcing a rule that is literally his job to do?
No, the suggestion is that the shittiest umps will have another area to express their shittiness by being terrible at enforcing the new rules. Sometimes they will nitpick and call slight movements, and other times they will ignore blatant violations.

Bill James just talked about the balk rules yesterday on the free part of his site. He was asked if he would still eliminate the balk rule, as he once said he would if there were corresponding adjustments.


"Well, I would like to eliminate the balk rule, but to do that you would have to make some off-setting adjustments. The purpose of the balk rule at its inception in the 1840s was to protect the base stealer by preventing the pitcher from breaking off in his delivery to home plate and throwing behind or throwing in front of the base stealer.

OK, that's good; we're all on board with that.

But to make that work, it turned out that we needed a whole series of rules about when EXACTLY the pitcher was in his motion to home plate and when EXACTLY he had broken off from that move in an impermissable fashion. There has been a century and a half accumulation of "notes" in the rule book about when that moment had passed. If the pitcher accidentally drops the ball in the middle of his delivery, that breaks the delivery, so that's a balk; somebody lost a game last year because of that one. If a left-handed pitcher re-directs his motion from a step toward home plate to a step toward first base, he has to step to the outside of a line directly between the pitcher's mound and first base. That created a "balk" that, like the holding call in football, could be called on every throw to first if you want to do it. If you throw to an un-occupied base, that's a balk; don't ask me why. Then there was the occasional fake to third/throw to first move which you could go a year without seeing in the 1960s, but in the mid-1970s Steve Busby and Al Fitzmorris perfected that one and actually picked several runners off of first base, so then other people started that, so then for a few years you would see the fake-to-third, throw-to-first move 30 times a game. It was just annoying, so they amended the balk rule to prohibit that.

By 2010, there were more than 30 different ways to commit a balk. Anything you did that was intended to deceive the baserunner was now covered by some point-of-order in the balk rule. And the "legally approved moves" that a pitcher HAD to take to avoid being called with for a balk were slowing down the game to a very significant extent when there were men on base. The pitcher had to take a SET position, and after taking his set position, he was supposed to come to a complete halt in mid-delivery before throwing the pitch, and then AFTER his complete halt, he wasn't allowed to break off and throw to the base.

My point was, deception is a natural part of sports. There are very few places in sports where deceiving the opposition about what you are doing is routinely prohibited. You can't do UNUSUAL things to deceive the opposition, like throwing a tennis ball past the in-bounder's head as he is trying to make an inbounds pass, but normal things, normal attempts at deception are ubiquitous in sports. Why are we going to these absurd, intrusive lengths, making up rule after rule after rule after rule after rule to prohibit the pitcher from deceiving the baserunners? LET HIM DECEIVE the baserunner, if he can--but just put an end point to it. Tell him, in essence, you get one or two shots at it, and then it's time to knock it off and play baseball.

My idea: the pitcher can do what he wants. He doesn't have to come to a set position, he doesn't have to come to a halt in mid-delivery, he can throw to the base ahead of the baserunner if he wants to, he can put his foot down wherever it lands, and he can fake to one base and throw to another one. It'll be fine; he can do all of that stuff. The only thing is, HE GETS ONE SHOT AT IT, one or two per baserunner. When he breaks off his delivery to try to pick off the runner OR to halt the runner's progress--umpire's judgment is all you need--then the first base umpire raises his hand, signalling "OK, you had your shot. It's time to pitch now." You can't do anything like that again, so the baserunner is now in control of the situation.

Well, you CAN, if you pick the runner off. If the baserunner takes too long a lead or breaks too early and you throw behind him and pick him off, OK, that's legal, you win. But if you've been told to cut it out and pitch and you throw behind him and DON'T pick him off, then he goes to second base (or whatever base), and we'll credit the baserunner with a stolen base, since there is no "Balk" anymore.

What they have actually done is adopted HALF of my idea. They kept all of the silly rules about when precisely a pitcher was breaking off his delivery in what might be an attempt to deceive the baserunner, but they adopted my idea or the idea. . . don't know whether anyone was advocating this before I was. They adopted THE idea of limiting how many times the pitcher can throw to first base before the baserunner is in charge of the situation. Like the first World War was The War to End All Wars, this is the Balk Rule to End All Balk Rules.

I am hoping that, once this is done, they'll see that the other rules are not actually necessary. All you actually need is to LIMIT what the pitcher can do to one or two shots, not to make 40 different rules requiring him to do this and do that and put your foot here, but just tell him he's got one shot, then knock it off and pitch to the batter. That's the main point of the game."

I agree with his take. Simplify the rules, allow deception, speed the game up.
 

Rice4HOF

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No, the suggestion is that the shittiest umps will have another area to express their shittiness by being terrible at enforcing the new rules. Sometimes they will nitpick and call slight movements, and other times they will ignore blatant violations.

Bill James just talked about the balk rules yesterday on the free part of his site. He was asked if he would still eliminate the balk rule, as he once said he would if there were corresponding adjustments.
.....
That was a very long response. I don't necessarily disagree with anything you said.

But I know that at some point, there's going to be a tie game in the 9th with a runner on 3rd base, and a pitcher is going to be called for a balk, and everyone is going to shit on the umpire (similar has happened to me), when he did nothing but enforce what might be a shitty rule. The rulemakers should get shat on for this type of stuff, not the umpires. /rant
 

Fishercat

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Ryan Thompson posted his experience on arbitration. I really hope this stupid system goes away next CBA.

View: https://twitter.com/R_Thompson15/status/1628585201973460992?s=20
Very interestingly, the other Rays RP who was in arbitration who also loss took his grievance public as well

Colin Poche ‘a little shocked’ to lose arbitration case, takes issue with panel not Rays (tampabay.com)

I guess my takeaway on it is that I'm surprised to see an MLB Franchise go to the process over like...100k. This feels like something that even if you handle it professionally as possible it's going to cause some strain. It may not be as important for players like Thompson or Poche but like, the Brewers had this with Corbin Burnes and it caused some real friction.