America’s peanut crunching, sunflower spitting, base stealing pastime recently received a facelift when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred noticed that baseball no longer attracts a widespread audience like it used to. It seemed as though other sports were heading in a new direction and baseball lagged in the past and after hasty consideration, the MLB determined that “streamlining” the game would open the doors of the future to a broader audience — unfortunately, this decision was about as effective as hitting into a double play. The commissioner’s office failed to consider the rippling repercussions of modifying old rules and thus incited a predominantly negative reactions from tendered fans and players alike. The desired effects of eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk, implementing instant replay, and punishing aggressive sliding tactics, has obviously caused baseball more harm than good.
New-age sports fans are not accustomed to sitting through a three-hour game and the MLB has decided that to quicken the pace of the game they would eliminate the intentional walk so pitchers would no longer go through the obligatory four lob walk – however, the effects of this decision have been pitiful. Tenured fans see it as an affront to tradition and the small change goes unnoticed to the audience who already found baseball boring before.
The next changes came in 2008 when Yankees Shortstop Alex Rodriguez hit a deep fly ball that struck a pole — calling into question the ability of the umpires to make accurate rulings on home run plays. The MLB decided to utilize cameras to make calls on contested plays. However, many fans argued that the revision system had nullifying effects: the umpires were no longer the rule of law and many close plays became anti-climatic while review was underway.
The final rule changes came in 2011 when Giants catcher Buster Posey attempted to apply a tag to outfielder Scott Cousins who was running home from third, causing massive fractures to both legs. As a result of the injury, the MLB implemented regulations allowing a clear lane to the plate when a defensive player does not have a play on the runner. Players now wonder which major leaguers will succumb to the new rules and which athletes will continue to exercise their right to stand their ground and protect the plate.
Modern baseball is evolving in an attempt to appeal to a larger range of viewers. Providing athletes with longer, safer careers are the intended the results of these rule changes but has sparked a boiling disgust amongst old-school fans who just want to watch the game as it is. They argue that the sport is perfect and changes, whether it be the walk, instant replay, or base path, are only for the worse; and I agree. Allow those who love baseball to continue to enjoy it in all its glory, and for those who would rather pass, let them continue to miss out of America’s best pastime.
cover image credit: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-buster-posey-breaks-leg-photogallery.html