12/5/18

Schizophrenia or hypocrisy? The MLB needs consistency regarding the rules of the game.

For the last several years, there have been many voices from MLB officials, pundits, and fans, regarding the "pace of the game", which, among other things,  resulted in a set of new rules on play and threads about addition of even more rules and even more discussion regarding shortening games.  The motivation has to do with data indicating that the average game these days is about 3 hours and 8 minutes, up a full 23 minutes (or 14%) than it was in 2005.

Baseball games, unlike basketball, football, and soccer, do not have timed play.  The play lasts for 9 innings, each inning being 3 outs for each team, unless there is a tie.  In that situation, teams play extra full innings, until the tie is ended.

The last few seasons, with the increased data obtained about tenancies of  hitters and probability of paths of a batted ball, a new phenomenon has appeared, that of defensive shifts.  It is actually not new; even in little league and softball, the outfield has traditionally been shifted towards the "pull" side of the hitter (that is the opposite side, right field for lefties and left field for righties), just because of the same increased probability of the ball landing there.  What has happened recently is infield shifts where teams move 3 players on one side of the infield, instead of the customary 2.

Defensive shifts have been under a lot of scrutiny by pundits, fans, players, managers, etc. because it is hard to hit against them and they result in outs.  Apparently now "support is building within the game" to eliminate shifts or change the rules around shifts to make them less ineffective.  Because the make outs.

Defensive shifts make outs.  Outs shorten games.  If indeed MLB's concern was the length of the games, shifts should be a godsend present towards that goal.   By trying to eliminate something that shortens games, the MLB is giving at least inconsistent messages. 

Are shorter games good or bad for the MLB? That is a question that the MLB needs to answer and be consistent with it, otherwise it will appear that what is "good" for the MLB is what they deem to be "good", regardless consistency. 

Maybe what they really do not like is that shifting a middle infielder who is payed $500K makes their $25 million a year superstar slugger look bad...

At some point, schizophrenia becomes hypocrisy and people in power should be held accountable.

1 comment:

Baljeet Sidhu said...

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