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The 15: Rule Changes MLB Should Consider

March 15, 2017
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has tried with varying levels of success to implement a number of new rules. Intentional walks will no longer involve having to throw pitches, and replay reviews will be limited to two minutes this season. There have also been discussions about limiting mound visits and an experiment with starting extra innings with runners on second base beginning with the World Baseball Classic. 

But why should we stop there? How about a few more? These are The 15 rules changes baseball could also consider. 

1. Crazy thought, but maybe all teams could play by the same rules?

If you grew up watching American League baseball, you probably believe all teams should play with designated hitters. If you grew up watching National League baseball, you probably believe all teams should play with pitchers hitting. Personally, I believe we should permanently play by beer league rules for everything.

2. Robot umpires, man. Robot umpires.

This is the one idea on which most baseball fans seem to agree, yet it still hasn't come to fruition. It's 2017. We're only 45 years away from when "The Jetsons" was set. Since flying cars and people living in space pods are mere decades away, I would think we should have the technology to get this right by now. 

3. Fixing the replay system is important. So how about instead of having the managers do the umpiring, we have the umpires do it.

Baseball is just like the NFL when it comes to the idiocy of this. How dumb is it that when there's a close call, for some reason a manager has to be the one to figure it out instead of just having another umpire who says, "Let me look at that again really quick." College football is the only sport that seems to get this right. If the call is close, look at it again ... quickly. Then move on. Stop forcing the teams to have to officiate the games for you. Also, since we've already replaced umpires with robots, this could give them new work. Stick an umpire in the press box and have them be the one to decide if a play should be looked at again. 

4. The "win" stat has been stupid for a long time. Let's get rid of it. But let's also get rid of the "save" stat while we're at it.

If you give up 10 runs in five innings but your team scores 12, congratulations, you were great! But if you pitch 4.2 no-hit innings and get pulled because your team doesn't want you to throw too many pitches, I'm so sorry, you just weren't good enough. Let's just be done with the "win" stat already. And we're awfully caught up on the "save" thing. How about teams just have their best pitchers pitch in big situations and stop worrying about these stupid stats?

5. You don't want to have runners on base in extra innings? Fine, but let's allow teams to bring back players who have already left the game instead.

A baseball game is nine innings, and the rule to prevent players from being able to return to the game makes sense for nine innings. When those games end up going 14 or 15 innings, such rules just don't make any damn sense anymore. (Similarly, it makes no sense that players don't get an extra foul to work with when a basketball game goes to overtime, but that's a whole different thing.)

6. No one wants to admit it, but September roster expansions are stupid.

"We're going to play a certain way for the entire season, but the moment the games start getting really important for the teams who are in pennant races, we're going to start using a bunch of minor leaguers." There's nothing quite like being one game out of a playoff spot Sept. 30 and realizing the team you're trying to catch is facing a starting pitcher who has never pitched above Double-A.

7. That being said, adding a 26th player to the roster year-round seems like a good idea, especially for teams that like to hoard Rule 5 players. Not that I'm thinking of any team specifically.

Opponents would say, "Why don't we just make it 27 players?" But they're just insufferable jerks. The idea for expanding rosters for an additional player is to reflect the amount of specialization that now exists in baseball. If a player catches the flu bug for a couple of days, it would be nice to have an additional player available. 

8. Playoff baseball is really great. Would anyone really have a problem with the Division Series being a best of seven?

While I did not include it, some would argue the regular season should be trimmed down to 144 games or so. That's understandable because the regular season can really drag on. But the postseason is freaking amazing. Playoff baseball is thrilling. Why wouldn't we want more of it?

9. Perhaps we'll get sick of it quickly, but could we create a rule that requires teams to broadcast their spring training games?

Obviously, this hits home a little bit more for us in Baltimore. But particularly if teams own their own regional sports networks, it feels as though they should be allowed to air the games. If they don't want to do full-fledged broadcasts because they're too costly, that's fine. But at least give us the option to watch the games. How can more exposure be a bad thing?

10. Here's another goofy broadcast idea. On nights a team isn't playing, its network should be airing one of its minor league games.

This is a bit more silly, but how many times during baseball season do you get home from work, sit down on the couch and then get really angry because you forgot the Orioles (or your own favorite team) were off that night? I don't know if you'd watch nine innings of a minor league game, but a chance to see a pitching prospect in the organization take the mound could do a little bit to fill the void.

11. You know what's annoying? Teams that inexplicably start their games at 10 after the hour. What is that all about?

This is even more frustrating because the two teams that do this are the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, both in the central time zone. So not only have I already had to wait an extra hour for the game to start, but now I have to wait an additional five minutes on top of that? Just play the games at five after. It works for everyone else. 

12. I know this is bold, but what if the Red Sox and Yankees were only allowed to be involved in like 90 percent of the national baseball broadcasts?

It's always nice to see a weekend series between them where the Friday night game is on MLB Network, the Saturday game is on FOX and the Sunday night game is on ESPN. Those teams just don't get enough exposure during the course of the season. 

13. The game the Braves and Marlins played at Fort Bragg last year was stupid cool. Perhaps we make a rule that every team has to play one game somewhere cool every year?

The Nationals are playing an exhibition game at the Naval Academy April 1, which is cool. But it would be even cooler if it were a real game. Teams could play games at their minor league affiliates, in football stadiums, other military bases, etc. 

14. Now that the All-Star Game has rightly gone back to being meaningless, we all agree not to get worked up if it ends in a tie, right?

I kind of hope it happens this year just to ruffle feathers. It's a stupid exhibition game and should never be viewed as anything other than that. 

15. We agree teams should be able to seize one player with the initials "MM" by eminent domain, right?

You know, because the Rays definitely don't want to lose catching prospect Mike Marjama to free agency in the future. 

Issue 231: March 2017