Shortly after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred took over for predecessor Bud Selig, he proposed an idea that would radically shift how baseball was played. Specifically — and yes, that pun was intended — Manfred wanted to eliminate defensive shifts. While he didn’t go into specifics, one might surmise that a hypothetical rule would have required two infielders to be on either side of second base prior to a pitch being thrown. The idea was quickly shot down by teams and fans alike, and we haven’t heard a peep about it since.
Baseball in its current form has been around for over 100 years, but there have been rule changes along the way. Some have been subtle, others... not so much. From the spitball to lowering the mound to the designated hitter, there have been some radical changes over the years. Have these changes made baseball better? That’s up to you to decide.
Since our beloved Detroit Tigers are sitting idly leading up to spring training, we thought we would have a little fun.
This week’s question: If you could change one rule of baseball, what rule would you change?
Rob: /puts Patrick down for the DH rule
Patrick: Yes, I would have the designated hitter used in all games, or at least in all interleague games. I have absolutely no desire to watch pitchers try to hit, and even less desire to see good pitchers taken out of the game for a pinch hitter in a close game. I wouldn't mind the fact that managers are not forced to choose between two bad decisions, which is what DH opponents pass off as "strategy." If managers really want to, they can let their pitchers hit.
Eric: If you can run to second base before the ball is caught, you are entitled to first base.
Fielder’s Choice: Ok, hear me out on this one... two baseballs.
Peter: Well done, you just invented watching baseball drunk.
Fielder’s Choice: No no, the pitchers could throw in opposite directions.
Kurt: Well done, you've just invented playing baseball drunk.
Fielder’s Choice: Even better!
Les: As a tennis fan who enjoys watching Hawkeye line reviews, I'd like to see managers be able to use their challenges for balls and strikes. Making the process as fast as possible would be key. The request would have to be immediate, no hanging around delaying the game waiting for confirmation from the clubhouse. Ball and strike call requests should probably be handled in-stadium, rather than by the New York review center, to minimize round-trip time. A ball and strike review should, by nature, be fast to perform, compared to the kinds of reviews that are currently allowed.
Kyle: While it rarely comes into play, I am not a big fan of the foul bunt strikeout rule. I do not think bunts should be treated differently than any other type of swing and thus should not be subject to a unique strikeout. While bunting is easier than swinging the bat, it is far from a given, and penalizing a player for not being able to put the ball into play seems inconsistent and unnecessarily unfair.
Brandon: It's not exactly a rule change, but I think it's time umpires had a hand held device that shows the PitchFX strike zone data. We need umpires to manage the game and make all other calls. I'm not advocating for a fully automated system just yet. But it seems crazy that the umpires have no access to the data everyone else involved in the game has access too. I would like them to have it if only to check themselves and make mental adjustments in game. It would be their discretion when to actually use it to call a pitch.
Jeff: I think there should be an international draft. Sure, there are rules in place to control international free agents like cost pools and penalties for going over the allotted budget. But I think it would be much simpler to just have a draft. Make it similar to the amateur draft. Eligible players must be at least 18 years or older and have about 10 rounds. Every team is on a level playing field then.
Rob: We’re already heading this way, but I would implement the 20-second pitch clock that is already in use down in the minors. It doesn’t fundamentally change the game, yet quickens the pace to an acceptable level for both casual fans and baseball diehards. Enforcing the rule seems like a challenge, but the current system of handing out fines for those who violate the pace of play rules has already paid dividends for MLB in terms of shortening games. The pitch clock could be tweaked (or eliminated) in postseason play, but would make a random regular season game between the Brewers and Padres much more palatable.
Jacob: I think that teams should be allowed to trade draft picks. While this would be painful for teams like the Tigers who have a weak system and need every pick but are also contenders and are likely to sell them, it would create more excitement. Draft day would hold even more drama for prospect nuts like me. Not only that, it would speed up the competitive cycle. With rebuilding teams acquiring higher picks and building themselves better farms and competitive teams exchanging pick slots for established major leaguers, good teams will have shorter runs and bad teams will get better faster.
Grace: I think that balls and strikes on a 3-2 count should be reviewable by instant replay. Too many times we've seen a third strike that should have been a walk or a fourth ball that should have been a strikeout. When that happens, it completely changes the feel of the game. I feel umpires have far too much authority and this would be one way to hold them more accountable. The emphasis should be on getting the call right, not on stroking umpires' egos.
Ashley: I know there are a lot of opinions about the balk, but I genuinely think there should be something implemented that prevents the advanced bag rule from scoring a run. Yes, fine, the pitcher balks you can advance first to second, or second to third, but I think a contingency should be in place that has a "but you cannot balk in a run." I've seen too many games end in a walk-off balk and it's just a garbage way to see a game end.