Last week, MLB announced that they were making some rule changes for the 2015 season. While there were many changes made, the main ones focused on the pace of play and time spent in between innings. The whole list of rule changes can be found here and a few days ago we linked Grant Brisbee's grades of the new rules. Despite that, I have a complaint about one of his ratings.
One of the amendments this season is that there will be a warning and fine system in place for offenders of the pace rules. After all, there must be some sort of deterrent for taking so long on the field that drying paint proceeds at a faster pace. Most fans and commenters discussed the penalty of awarding balls and strikes, but MLB chose to get the Benjamins involved instead. Brisbee determined that this was a D- decision, stating that money should not be part of the equation.
However, Brisbee pretty much failed to explain why he preferred the ball-and-strike penalty, other than that he didn't like the alternative. I'm not kidding, this was what he wrote:
Oh, come on. Just call a ball or strike depending on who is violating the rule. Don't bring money into this.
Unless it's, like, a $100,000 fine for each transgression, which would lead to players completely freaking out. Now that's something we can GIF. Anything in the middle is tacky.
I suppose Brisbee was typing up reviews of every rule and he couldn't necessarily be descriptive with everything, but it feels like he railed against it simply because he didn't like it. Well, I disagree with him and I can at least explain why.
In my opinion, money must be brought into the equation. In a hypothetical situation, let's say that Glen Perkins is trying to hold a one-run lead in the 9th inning against the Tigers with Miguel Cabrera at the plate. The game comes back from commercial, Cabrera digs in, but Perkins isn't fully ready, because it's Miggy Cabrera at the dish. Perkins decides he doesn't want to risk being penalized a ball for taking too long, as it's been shown that batters have different results in different counts and the first three pitches are often the most important pitches of the at-bat. Knowing this, Perkins chucks the ball up to the plate. He misses his spot, Cabrera hits a dinger and suddenly it's a tie game. Afterwards, Perkins is giving his postgame interview and he admits that he hurried his throw just to avoid being down 1-0 to one of the best hitters in the majors.
At least with the fine system, Perkins can take his time. It'll annoy us fans and viewers, but he can continue to focus on the game. He'll just have to make a donation to the Twins Community Fund the next day. Plus, I'm not interested in seeing umpires award balls and strikes simply because a player took too long to get ready. Slap a fine on him, make it escalate for each violation, and eventually guys will cut it out because they're tired of writing out $1,000 checks.
If anyone wants to argue that other sports have delay of game penalties (warning & technical foul in basketball, penalty in hockey, 5 yards in football), remember that those games actually have clocks. Baseball doesn't have one and it shouldn't have one.
I suppose this means I'm railing more against the whole "delay of game" facet that's being introduced instead of the ball & strike vs. warning and fine system, but I'm not the target audience for this rule, anyway. When I watch baseball, I don't watch baseball. I'm not tuned in to every single play, every little detail, every anecdote that Bert Blyleven loves to share. Baseball may be my favorite sport, but I'll openly admit that it can be boring as hell, and that's how I like it. It sounds crazy, but it allows me to do other work while it's on, and I don't feel like it's a big deal if I miss a routine groundout to second base. This isn't Better Call Saul where I'm on the edge of my seat the entire episode and I refuse to talk to my wife until the commercial break arrives. This is baseball.
Anyway, back to my point. Basically, I want the least intrusive way to police baseball players on the field. Adding balls and strikes means that a batter could start 1-0 or 0-1 when a single pitch hasn't even been thrown.
Plus, we'll now be treated to players saying that the hurried their pitch just to avoid being fined. Marshawn Lynch would approve.