MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred: ‘We Need To Make A Change To The Baseball’

chawson

Well-Known Member
Bronze Supporter
Aug 1, 2006
1,583
The problem isn't how long it takes catchers to signal and pitchers to nod or shake it off. The problem is how long the pitchers and hitters doddle, literally doing nothing.
I think you’re right. However, by dawdling, aren’t pitchers also in a sense resting? My concern would be that implementing clocks could increase the risk of injury. Pitchers already get hurt all the time throwing 95 mph baseballs every 30 seconds. There’s really no precedent in history of people doing it every 15 or 20 seconds.

More injuries mean worse pitchers (and a worse game), and therefore probably higher scoring, which negates the original fix.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
10,877
Maine
You can. Lots of high quality microphones that can pick up a whisper
They can also speak in code. It's not like the catcher has to say "fastball, low and away".

I don't hear Tom Brady whispering calls at the line of scrimmage, but he manages to make calls and audibles that the defense hears but can't decipher, at least not fast enough to matter.
 

Spelunker

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 17, 2005
5,943
I think you’re right. However, by dawdling, aren’t pitchers also in a sense resting? My concern would be that implementing clocks could increase the risk of injury. Pitchers already get hurt all the time throwing 95 mph baseballs every 30 seconds. There’s really no precedent in history of people doing it every 15 or 20 seconds.

More injuries mean worse pitchers (and a worse game), and therefore probably higher scoring, which negates the original fix.
Or, if they throw more rapidly velocity also comes down a tick and they're actually less injury prone than they are now. We don't really know. But we do know that the product will be better if there is less time between pitches.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
3,619
Boston, MA
But would it really reduce K's? Breaking pitch usage is up and higher seems should make those pitches more effective.
Using the International League (AAA) as a control group, since they switched to the MLB ball this year, homers are up 60% and strikeouts are up 15% from 2018. So the effect on strikeouts is smaller than homers, but still fairly significant. I can't say whether it's because of the baseball itself, or because hitters are more free swinging now that there's a greater chance to hit a home run every at bat.
 

Spelunker

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 17, 2005
5,943
Using the International League (AAA) as a control group, since they switched to the MLB ball this year, homers are up 60% and strikeouts are up 15% from 2018. So the effect on strikeouts is smaller than homers, but still fairly significant. I can't say whether it's because of the baseball itself, or because hitters are more free swinging now that there's a greater chance to hit a home run every at bat.
Or the pitchers are reacting to the increased chances that any contact will result in a homer by pitching away from contact and going more for the k.
 

PC Drunken Friar

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 12, 2003
9,574
South Boston
Some of the year end stats are absurd.

From Joe Posnanski, its on the Athletic, so I will paraphrase.

There is now a 671 HR gap between this year's record and 2nd place. 4 teams (Twins, Yankees, Dodgers and Astros) hit more HR than any team in the history of the game. 15 of the 30 teams set club records for most HR hit.

Compared to 2014, there were 2,590 (!!!!!) more HR hit this year.
 

OCD SS

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Just from general osmosis of media over the season, it seems like MLB took over the manufacture of the ball in an effort to make it more regular (spherical) with lower seams to avoid pitcher blisters, and got shafted by the law of unintended consequences. The lower seams are reducing drag so breaking balls break less and barrelled balls go farther. (This may be the upshot of the link Bonger posted, but I'm not subscribed to the Athletic, so pardon the unnecessary summary if that's the case).

If Manfred wants to fix this, does he have to amend the rules to make a less perfect baseball the ideal?

My focus would be on raising the seams a bit to give pitchers more bite on breaking stuff, but I wonder where the happy medium is between increased drag and blisters.
 

Muppet

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 25, 2012
412
Drunk
Maybe instead of robot umps, we could put in robot baserunners.

Just like the lure in a greyhound race, you just adjust the speed to fit the baserunners ability. ie: Betts is a 7, Vazquez 1.

Have the actual player use the controls to decide whether to steal, advance etc.

No signs stolen. Problem fixed and have all the robots wear Steven Wright's number in honour of his sacrifice to make this possible.
 
Aug 11, 2019
106
Assuming I counted correctly, only 14 teams set franchise records this season for home runs and one tied its record. I did expect more before looking at the results.
 

Lose Remerswaal

Leaves after the 8th inning
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Just from general osmosis of media over the season, it seems like MLB took over the manufacture of the ball in an effort to make it more regular (spherical) with lower seams to avoid pitcher blisters, and got shafted by the law of unintended consequences. The lower seams are reducing drag so breaking balls break less and barrelled balls go farther. (This may be the upshot of the link Bonger posted, but I'm not subscribed to the Athletic, so pardon the unnecessary summary if that's the case).

If Manfred wants to fix this, does he have to amend the rules to make a less perfect baseball the ideal?

My focus would be on raising the seams a bit to give pitchers more bite on breaking stuff, but I wonder where the happy medium is between increased drag and blisters.
Interesting, I hadn't heard about the blister reason before. Can't believe they didn't know lower seams would have multiple affects.
 

geoduck no quahog

not particularly consistent
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Nov 8, 2002
11,433
Seattle, WA
- Part of the increase in HR's must be due to the launch angle twist, which is due to shift-mania altering the game. If you're pulling the ball now, you're odds are now with hitting it out of the park...and taking the strikeouts as part of the equation. I think shift-rules would result in less fly balls/K's. Still...not convinced it's a good idea. I'd rather see batters smarten up and beat the shifts.

- Catchers need to call the game because good catchers can see what hitters are doing and they can assess what the pitcher has (or doesn't). Only the guy behind the plate can do that, although it's a skill that not every catcher has.
 

effectivelywild

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
239
Or, if they throw more rapidly velocity also comes down a tick and they're actually less injury prone than they are now. We don't really know. But we do know that the product will be better if there is less time between pitches.
Sorry to jump in late, but fivethirtyeight did find that pitchers that took longer between pitches had a mild increase in velocity. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/pitchers-are-slowing-down-to-speed-up/

On the other hand, they also found that older hitters also benefited from extending the time between pitches: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/mlb-games-are-slow-again-and-its-helping-older-hitters/#fn-4


So I guess in theory, if they started to enforce measures designed to reduce the time between pitches, MLB could have it all three ways: 1. Less dead time in the game 2. More balls in play from slower pitches and 3. More reason to not pay veterans in favor of younger, cost-controlled players.
 

Dewey'sCannon

lurker
Jul 18, 2005
613
Maryland
- Part of the increase in HR's must be due to the launch angle twist, which is due to shift-mania altering the game. If you're pulling the ball now, you're odds are now with hitting it out of the park...and taking the strikeouts as part of the equation. I think shift-rules would result in less fly balls/K's. Still...not convinced it's a good idea. I'd rather see batters smarten up and beat the shifts.

- Catchers need to call the game because good catchers can see what hitters are doing and they can assess what the pitcher has (or doesn't). Only the guy behind the plate can do that, although it's a skill that not every catcher has.
I think it's good to point out that part of the increase in HRs is due to the launch angle craze, which is partly due to the increase in shifting. But I don't know that it's that easy for batters to simply "smarten up" to beat the shifts (by going the other way). The pitchers have also changed their strategies to some extent to try to force batters to hit into the shift - they mentioned this in one of the playoff games I was watching the other day. So that would make it harder for the batter to simply go the other way. I don't know that all these hitters are necessarily pull-happy - I think to some extent their swings are just based on where the ball i pitched. I think we've seen a lot of this with JBJ.

But if pitchers are pitching inside somewhat more to get batters to hit into the shift, it also leaves a lesser margin of error - if they miss their spot inside, and leave it a little over the plate, then there's a greater chance that that ball is going to be taken deep, more so because of the hitters' launch angle approach. So I think the long ball may be the most effective way to attack the shift, other than maybe bunting (a lost art, but that's a different story - I hate the sacrifice bunt, but I'd like to see a lot more bunting for base hits).

On a side note, I've also noticed that all these shifts are having an odd negative impact on my enjoyment of the game. It used to be that "going up the middle" was one of the most basic rules or approaches to hitting, and certainly a good way to try to get out of a slump. And watching the game, when you see the batter hit the ball up the middle, you're immediately thinking "that's a base hit." But with all these shifts, balls up the middle are frequently just outs. As a fan, I find this frustrating, as in my mind these "should" be hits.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
12,896
One idea for a minor rule change: the first time a batter bunts foul with 2 strikes, instead of it being strike 3, it's just a foul ball. If he tries to bunt again after that and fouls it off, then he is out.

This would keep teams from shifting even more when the batter gets 2 strikes on him. The way it is now, once the batter gets 2 strikes, the defense often shifts even more, because they know he won't try to bunt.

It would also encourage hitters to try to bunt for hits more often, which would probably lead to more batters to putting in more practice time working on bunting for a hit, which would in turn likely reduce the amount of shifts they see.

This rule shouldn't have too much other impact. It would only come into play when a batter has 2 strikes and wants to bunt. Some guys just aren't going to bunt, period.
 

Pearl Wilson

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 24, 2003
7,057
Maine
Just from general osmosis of media over the season, it seems like MLB took over the manufacture of the ball in an effort to make it more regular (spherical) with lower seams to avoid pitcher blisters, and got shafted by the law of unintended consequences. The lower seams are reducing drag so breaking balls break less and barrelled balls go farther. (This may be the upshot of the link Bonger posted, but I'm not subscribed to the Athletic, so pardon the unnecessary summary if that's the case).

If Manfred wants to fix this, does he have to amend the rules to make a less perfect baseball the ideal?

My focus would be on raising the seams a bit to give pitchers more bite on breaking stuff, but I wonder where the happy medium is between increased drag and blisters.
This. But how do you begin to find "the happy medium?

Who doesn't remember a young pitcher bleeding all over his white pants from blisters? A young Justin Verlander comes to mind, for me. He made changes to compensate. Health issues in the population of pitchers must be really hard to track and to project.
 

Reverend

for king and country
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
This. But how do you begin to find "the happy medium?

Who doesn't remember a young pitcher bleeding all over his white pants from blisters? A young Justin Verlander comes to mind, for me. He made changes to compensate. Health issues in the population of pitchers must be really hard to track and to project.
Has anyone looked at spin rates on pitches across the league before and after? Is it affected by the lower seams?

Because it occurs to me that the same process that causes blisters also causes break on the ball. If lower seams reduce blisters, does it reduce spin rate as well?
 

dhappy42

Straw Man
Oct 27, 2013
6,873
Michigan
This. But how do you begin to find "the happy medium?

Who doesn't remember a young pitcher bleeding all over his white pants from blisters? A young Justin Verlander comes to mind, for me. He made changes to compensate. Health issues in the population of pitchers must be really hard to track and to project.
Why are MLB baseball seams any different from MiLB seams? Seems to me the seams should be the same.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
11,947
I think it's good to point out that part of the increase in HRs is due to the launch angle craze, which is partly due to the increase in shifting. But I don't know that it's that easy for batters to simply "smarten up" to beat the shifts (by going the other way). The pitchers have also changed their strategies to some extent to try to force batters to hit into the shift - they mentioned this in one of the playoff games I was watching the other day. So that would make it harder for the batter to simply go the other way. I don't know that all these hitters are necessarily pull-happy - I think to some extent their swings are just based on where the ball i pitched. I think we've seen a lot of this with JBJ.

But if pitchers are pitching inside somewhat more to get batters to hit into the shift, it also leaves a lesser margin of error - if they miss their spot inside, and leave it a little over the plate, then there's a greater chance that that ball is going to be taken deep, more so because of the hitters' launch angle approach. So I think the long ball may be the most effective way to attack the shift, other than maybe bunting (a lost art, but that's a different story - I hate the sacrifice bunt, but I'd like to see a lot more bunting for base hits).

On a side note, I've also noticed that all these shifts are having an odd negative impact on my enjoyment of the game. It used to be that "going up the middle" was one of the most basic rules or approaches to hitting, and certainly a good way to try to get out of a slump. And watching the game, when you see the batter hit the ball up the middle, you're immediately thinking "that's a base hit." But with all these shifts, balls up the middle are frequently just outs. As a fan, I find this frustrating, as in my mind these "should" be hits.
I feel the same way.

Rule should be that there must be 2 and only 2 fielders on each side of second base, and all four must be on the infield dirt, with the third baseman no more than 30 feet from 3rd base, until the pitcher releases the ball. Violation of the rule creates a dead ball and a ball credited to the batter.
 

axx

lurker
Jul 16, 2005
6,308
So now there's talk that MLB is using the non-juiced ball during the playoffs. Don't really have much more to add other than it's something worth watching.
 

Harry Hooper

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jan 4, 2002
25,941
So now there's talk that MLB is using the non-juiced ball during the playoffs. Don't really have much more to add other than it's something worth watching.
I thought only the NFL messed with the game on the field during the playoffs.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
3,619
Boston, MA
It certainly seemed like some balls were hit in the Yankees-Twins series that would have gone out earlier in the year and stayed in the yard.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
12,896
It's absolutely crazy that the most basic and important part of the game, the baseball, may or not be fundamentally different in the playoffs than in the regular season.

It's already insane that the baseball played completely differently this year than last, and may also be completely different in the playoffs, and then different again next year. It taints the competition, just suddenly without warning giving advantages to some players and disadvantages to others, and makes the game different in the postseason than it was in the regular season. What kind of bush league does something like that?

It's like if in the NBA, one year they play with 10 foot baskets, then the next they move them down to 9 feet, but that changes things, so for the playoffs they move them up to 9.5 feet, and say that the next season they will need to move them again. Probably. Up or down or something. We'll see.

Good luck to anyone trying to prepare to play, or to put together or manage a team.
 

bosox79

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 22, 2002
10,336
It's absolutely crazy that the most basic and important part of the game, the baseball, may or not be fundamentally different in the playoffs than in the regular season.

It's already insane that the baseball played completely differently this year than last, and may also be completely different in the playoffs, and then different again next year. It taints the competition, just suddenly without warning giving advantages to some players and disadvantages to others, and makes the game different in the postseason than it was in the regular season. What kind of bush league does something like that?

It's like if in the NBA, one year they play with 10 foot baskets, then the next they move them down to 9 feet, but that changes things, so for the playoffs they move them up to 9.5 feet, and say that the next season they will need to move them again. Probably. Up or down or something. We'll see.

Good luck to anyone trying to prepare to play, or to put together or manage a team.
Is what the NBA did with the 3 point line in the 90's not comparable to you?
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
11,947
The Dodgers’ HR last night sure seemed like they were juiced ball specials. Neither one was hit fully square and both went out with about 4 feet to spare.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
12,896
Is what the NBA did with the 3 point line in the 90's not comparable to you?
Let's pretend that the 3-point line in basketball is just as important and impactful on the game as the ball is in baseball. It's not, but let's pretend it is:

Did they move the line after the regular season, changing it for the playoffs, without telling anyone? Because that's what is being speculated about baseball this year.

Did they move the 3-point line before a season started and not tell anyone beforehand and just let everyone figure out for themselves in the middle of the year that the line had moved? Because that would be comparable to what happened in baseball this year.
 

uncannymanny

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Jan 12, 2007
6,282
Boston --> NYC --> LA --> NYC
MLB made it clear when they purchased Rawlings that they’d be messing with the ball.

“MLB is excited to take an ownership position in one of the most iconic brands in sports and further build on the Rawlings legacy, which dates back to 1887,” said Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president for strategy, technology and innovation. “We are particularly interested in providing even more input and direction on the production of the official ball of Major League Baseball, one of the most important on-field products to the play of our great game.”
 

bosox79

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 22, 2002
10,336
Let's pretend that the 3-point line in basketball is just as important and impactful on the game as the ball is in baseball. It's not, but let's pretend it is:

Did they move the line after the regular season, changing it for the playoffs, without telling anyone? Because that's what is being speculated about baseball this year.

Did they move the 3-point line before a season started and not tell anyone beforehand and just let everyone figure out for themselves in the middle of the year that the line had moved? Because that would be comparable to what happened in baseball this year.
The MLB did tell people. But no I guess. They only changed the length of the 3 point shot 3 times in a couple years.

I'm pretty sure the NFL changes the rules all the time and has a different set of rules for the playoffs than the regular season. Pretty sure the NHL does too. It's not as unique as you think.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
12,896
The MLB did tell people. But no I guess. They only changed the length of the 3 point shot 3 times in a couple years.

I'm pretty sure the NFL changes the rules all the time and has a different set of rules for the playoffs than the regular season. Pretty sure the NHL does too. It's not as unique as you think.
They didn't tell anyone the effect of the changes they were going to make, it was just "we might change the ball." That's useless. How is it going to change? What impact will it have? Will it make throwing breaking balls harder? Easier? Will it make fly balls travel further? Shorter? What pitches will it effect, and how much? Who knows?
Nobody knows. There is going to suddenly be a huge change to the most fundamental piece of equipment in the game, and nobody knows how it's going to change things.

The ball impacts every single pitch in every single game. Messing with it is ridiculous, especially before the playoffs, because it's so impactful, far more than anything other leagues have changed. It's a joke.
 

bosox79

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 22, 2002
10,336
They didn't tell anyone the effect of the changes they were going to make, it was just "we might change the ball." That's useless. How is it going to change? What impact will it have? Will it make throwing breaking balls harder? Easier? Will it make fly balls travel further? Shorter? What pitches will it effect, and how much? Who knows?
Nobody knows. There is going to suddenly be a huge change to the most fundamental piece of equipment in the game, and nobody knows how it's going to change things.
They didn't know what changes the ball would have so how could they tell the players that? They could have just left the ball the same and told the pitchers to go screw themselves re: blisters I suppose. Is that a better alternative to you?

I guess they could have tested the ball in AAA first. I personally don't care. They are all operating under the same rules.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
12,896
They didn't know what changes the ball would have so how could they tell the players that? They could have just left the ball the same and told the pitchers to go screw themselves re: blisters I suppose. Is that a better alternative to you?
This is exactly what's crazy about this-- they had no idea what changes would occur when they messed with the ball. But they went ahead and did it anyway.

And it messed things up bad, so they may well have changed the ball AGAIN before the playoffs. Agin not knowing how it was going to change the game. And if they did do that, they certainly didn't tell anyone.

We don't know yet if they did change the ball or not. Since they clearly changed it before this season and will again before next season, people are going to suspect that they did.

I guess they could have tested the ball in AAA first. I personally don't care. They are all operating under the same rules.
Yes, testing the baseball before using it in the majors would be a sane thing to do. Don't mess with the most fundamental equipment in the game until you at least have some idea of the impact it could make. And especially don't change the ball before the playoffs.

I get that you personally don't care. That doesn't make it right. Changing the ball without testing it to see what impact it would have is stupid and possibly really damaging to the way the game is played. The ball isn't something that should be altered on a whim like that, it's too important to the game.
 

dhappy42

Straw Man
Oct 27, 2013
6,873
Michigan
Before MLB umpires starting putting a new ball in play after every second or third pitch, I think the variability between balls was much greater than between the 2018 and 2019 balls. Balls would get small scuffs and dents. Go back even further, and balls would become slightly softer.

None of this is to approve or defend the 2019 balls or a supposed post-season switch, but just to point out that for much of baseball’s history there was very little conformity in batches of balls or the consistency in the characteristics of the baseball even during a game.
 

Green Monster

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 29, 2000
2,017
CT
They didn't know what changes the ball would have so how could they tell the players that? They could have just left the ball the same and told the pitchers to go screw themselves re: blisters I suppose. Is that a better alternative to you?

I guess they could have tested the ball in AAA first. I personally don't care. They are all operating under the same rules.
If MLB was concerned about the baseball causing blisters then it would have been changed at all levels, not just the major leagues. The ball was changed so it would travel farther and make the game "more exciting".....The blister excuse is BS
 

bosox79

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 22, 2002
10,336
If MLB was concerned about the baseball causing blisters then it would have been changed at all levels, not just the major leagues. The ball was changed so it would travel farther and make the game "more exciting".....The blister excuse is BS
Then why would they change it back to the "more boring" ball when more eyeballs are on the game now than the regular season?
 

Green Monster

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 29, 2000
2,017
CT
Then why would they change it back to the "more boring" ball when more eyeballs are on the game now than the regular season?
Perhaps in hindsight it wasn't more exciting even if that was the initial intention. Your point is valid, doesn't make sense to change back for the playoffs regardless of the original intention... I maintain that the blister story has/had nothing to do with any of it.
 

Ford Frick's Asterisk

Member
SoSH Member
May 5, 2017
563
Has everyone already forgotten that this isn't unique whatsoever? Just two years ago several pitchers (Verlander and Darvish the most outspoken of them) and coaches, including most of the pitching staffs of the Astros, Dodgers and Indians swore that MLB had switched to a slicker baseball for the 2017 playoffs. Lance McCullers was identifying the different baseballs in a blindfold test. The only thing new is that this year the change is supposed to help the pitchers instead of the hitters.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
11,947
Occam’s razor applies in both cases:

They made the first change because “Chicks dig the long ball”

They changed back for the playoffs because the change was too drastic, and they didn’t want all the casual fans turning in for the playoffs to see how the game had become more like “Home Run Derby” than baseball.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
11,947
That’s obviously not what I meant. I had thought the Twins were more reliant on the HR to score, but it turns out they were just excellent all around at the plate.
The Twins appeared to be excellent because they had played 57 games against AAA teams. The Yankee series exposed them as mediocrities.
 

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
45,879
The Twins appeared to be excellent because they had played 57 games against AAA teams. The Yankee series exposed them as mediocrities.
They had some huge injuries also, Buxton is crucial to their D, chasing down as many mistakes from that staff as he can between meh corner defenders. And Pineda getting suspended was a staff killer, he was their best guy by far at that point. And as for guys who tried to play, Kepler was not himself and maybe not Garver either.

But postmortems on them don't matter that much, they have a lot of nice lineup pieces in place and some promising young relievers, but their entire rotation except Berrios are FAs. Odorizzi, Pineda, Perez and Gibson. If they keep the first two, they are in OK shape but even then they still have two spots to fill and they need Berrios to be great which is looking less likely. I think the White Sox could win the Central as soon as next year, especially if they grab the right veterans this winter.
 

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
45,879
Also the Twins turned down Buxton for Syndergaard at the deadline, that would have just created a different hole for MIN and Buxton is a fantastic player when healthy but I think MIN would go back and do it now if they could.