A traditionalist, former commissioner Bud Selig attempted to maintain the game's classic nature, while adding common sense for the current world. Only hours into his new job as MLB commissioner, however, Rob Manfred has taken a different approach. Almost immediately, Manfred threw gas onto the fire of recently suggested changes to the pace of game, saying Sunday that he wants to eliminate defensive shifts, among others.
That didn't sit well with, well, a lot of people. Alternative suggestions for ways to speed up the game were discussed, including the elimination or shortage of commercials, which have become time-consuming with ever-increasing team costs.
Some suggestions, such as banning the curveball were partially in jest, but the point was still the same, the game of baseball will change on its own and shouldn't be messed with. In the pitcher's case, it would be even less of a walk in the park when facing certain power hitters.
Shrink the strike zone and offense comes back. Give me a break with the shift ban nonsense.— Neil Weinberg (@NeilWeinberg44) January 25, 2015
Increasing offense, by its very nature will extend games, not shorten them. The game changes b/c players' abilities change. Adapt to it.— Catherine Slonksnis (@CSlonksnis) January 25, 2015
The awesome thing about the shift is that it's not illegal to hit it where fielders are not playing— Jordan Gorosh (@jgorosh) January 25, 2015
Some suggestions had a humorous spin to them while getting the point across.
Right, defensive shifts make baseball boring. Because nobody plays a zone defense in football or basketball.— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) January 25, 2015
Banning the shift is saying, "You should not be able to put your fielders where the batter is likely to hit the ball." It's ridiculous.— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) January 25, 2015
UMPIRE: "Son, you can't stand there." PLAYER: "What, why not?" UMPIRE: "Because David Ortiz is going to hit the ball there, obviously."— Bucs Dugout (@BucsDugout) January 25, 2015
There were suggestions on how to improve the game without changing the actual game.
Ways to speed the game: Shorter commercials, ban kiss cam/ballpark proposals, bring back bullpen cart, enforce existing rules.— Wendy Thurm (@hangingsliders) January 25, 2015
Ways to make game appealing to younger fans: end local blackouts & make every game accessible on mobile devices.— Wendy Thurm (@hangingsliders) January 25, 2015
Want to make baseball games appealing to younger viewers? Start World Series games at a time they can watch.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) January 25, 2015
The idea to eliminate defensive shifts is monumentally stupid.— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) January 25, 2015
What's next? Banning sliders because they trick batters? Having a referee in charge of arbitrarily separating out the legal curves?— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) January 25, 2015
On the flip side, some team general managers aren't opposed to it, although support for the suggestion has been limited. It would be interesting to see the extent of support MLB teams would have for the change, if formally proposed. However, while the length of games and additional offense may seem like they are related, that may not be the case.
This is very telling: I ran Rob Manfred's idea to limit defensive shifts by two sabermetrically inclined GMs -- and both said they agree.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 25, 2015
Both essentially said same thing: The game is better when the casual fans gets the product they want. Big concern baseball isn't delivering.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 25, 2015
Said one GM: "I was the same way. Initially thought ridiculous to ban intellectual advantage. But that's not why we became fans."— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 25, 2015
Another GM: "At some point we can't pretend our game is divine and will fix itself. It is getting boring."— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 25, 2015