Major League Baseball is changing.
On Tuesday, an announcement was made that the rule for intentional walks has officially changed. There will be no more of the pitcher firing four tosses to the outside batter’s box while the catcher stands signaling with his arm to the side. Instead, an intentional walk will be automatic after a manager gives the signal from the dugout.
This is just the first of many possible changes that commissioner Rob Manfred has proposed for MLB in the next few years. These changes revolve around speeding up the pace of games, which routinely last three hours. By removing the intentional walk from the game, it allows the game to move along to the next batter. However, we will never see the moments an intentional walk gone wrong provides us again. For example, in 2006, Marlins’ 3B Miguel Cabrera was about to receive an intentional walk, with SS Hanley Ramirez in scoring position at second base. However, when the pitch came a little to close to the zone, Cabrera found himself able to take advantage:
While that incident is over 10 years old, it doesn’t mean it’s a rarity. Check out this clip of Yankees’ C Gary Sanchez almost hitting a home run on an attempted intentional walk in 2016:
While those are just some of the hits the automatic intentional walk will take away, here are some of the other follies and fun moments that will be gone as well:
While the intentional walk rule has already passed, there are a number of others on the docket for Manfred.
Manfred has thought about adding a pitch clock, smaller strike zone, and allowing fewer visits to the mound as additional rule changes. In the Minor Leagues, they have experimented with a pitch clock for the last few seasons. In 2017, the Minor Leagues will also serve as the “guinea pig” for a new extra-innings rule that would start with a runner on second base.
However, changing the rules won’t be easy for Manfred. In fact, the MLB Players’ Association opposes these rule changes, limiting Manfred from making more changes in 2017.
Overall, Manfred aims to improve the pace of MLB games. Some players and fans are traditionalists, and do not want to see the game changed.
Our question is, should MLB pass proposed rules changes?