Sunday, February 12, 2017

Messing with the Intentional Walk, Messes with the Integrity of the Game
The change in the intentional-walk rule would end the long-standing practice of requiring the pitcher to toss four soft pitches outside the strike zone. Instead, a team could just signify it wants to issue an intentional walk, and the hitter would be sent directly to first base.

Both proposals are part of MLB's attempts to streamline what commissioner Rob Manfred often refers to as "pace of action." But the two changes would have far different impacts.

Getting rid of the old-fashioned intentional walk would eliminate about a minute of dead time per walk. In an age in which intentional walks actually have been declining -- there were just 932 all last season (or one every 2.6 games) -- that time savings would be minimal. But MLB sees the practice of lobbing four meaningless pitches as antiquated, so eliminating them would serve as much as a statement as it would a practical attempt to speed up the game.
Granted, as someone who still despises Interleague baseball, I'm certainly a traditionalist who's biased on the subject. But I don't know how the Players Union can approve this ass-backwards proposal (in the name of 'speeding up the game').

Indeed, walking a player intentionally is not something that every pitcher can do or even likes to do (i.e. Armando Benitez). Then too, while it rarely happens, there have been instances where a pitcher either throws a wild pitch during an intentional walk or a hitter takes advantage of a badly thrown free pass and attempts to hit away. Or how about the exciting event of a 'fake' intentional walk or the fact that it only takes a minute to walk a guy intentionally anyway--so are baseball execs really trying to improve the pace of the game or just being silly because they have nothing better to do?

So yeah, while the degree of uncertainty may be small, as the video above can attest to, change just for change sake can often be dumb.

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