Baseball isn’t as popular as it used to be. That’s hardly news. Some, including incoming Commissioner Rob Manfred, have argued that it’s too slow-paced for modern American society. To that end, he’s talking about some rule changes. The first is a “pitch clock”, designed to keep the game moving along. I don’t find that particularly objectionable, thought it would certainly take some getting used to.
The second, more obnoxious change, would be to ban defensive shifts. Seriously? If the idea is to generate more offense (it’s been a pitcher’s game since the end of the steroid era), my response is “who cares?” If you want to see a lot of hits, show up for batting practice. I’ll admit that I tend to be biased in favor of defense in sports. I’d much rather see a great dive and throw to first than a home run. If the shift is a problem, perhaps batters should learn to hit to the opposite field. I’m looking forward to Manfred proposing that players have to stand still until the ball hits the ground. Perhaps if he were the NFL commissioner, we’d finally see the “5-second count” rule for blitzes.
Next up for Rob Manfred: eliminating the apples from apple pie so people can eat it faster.