Last season, the Atlantic League put in a few new rules to improve the pace of play. Some of them worked extremely well – such as timing between innings and batters staying in the box – have been instituted in the majors this season.
And these rules have cut off approximately 8 minutes per game.
So now the Atlantic League is experimenting again. Taking the suggestion of author Paul Auster, the league is playing an exhibition game between the Long Island Ducks and Bridgeport Bluefish with some radical rules that include a player being ruled out if they foul off a pitch with two strikes and a player earning a walk after three balls, rather than four.
Look call me old fashioned, but changing the fundamental rules of the game is not going to improve baseball, but rather destroy is very fabric of the game.
In 1999, Shawon Dunston led off the 15th inning of Grand Slam Single with a 12-pitch, nine minute at bat, that saw him fight back from being down 1-2 in the count. Under these new rules, he would have been out and the Grand Slam Single would never have happened – or at least not in the way we remember.
By limiting the number of pitches thrown to a batter, the pitcher will have the advantage, since there’s less chance of a mistake by a pitcher.
Baseball is trying to increase offense right now and these rules will hurt that in the long run.
That said, you have to give some credit here, since the Atlantic League is just taking a look.
This, though, has disaster written all over it. In the Atlantic League there’s some value to it, since the most fans don’t follow the league, like they do in the majors. Most fans in the crowd attend the day to have a nice day out and don’t really follow the players like they do in the National and American Leagues.
That said, there’s a certain element that still needs to come into play and changing the basic fabric of the game isn’t speeding up the game but changing the sport all together.
Sometimes progress is a good thing. This is not it.