Major League Baseball kicked off the regular season last Sunday night. It was a great night because my St. Louis Cardinals were able to beat the team I hate most in baseball: the Chicago Cubs. But that isn’t why I will remember that game. The game will stick out to me because the catcher for the Cardinals, Yadier Molina, was the first player in the history of baseball to be intentionally walked without a single pitch being thrown.
This new rule was approved by the MLB on Tuesday, Feb. 21 as an attempt to pick up the pace of play during games. The rule states that a coach can give a signal to the pitcher or umpire saying that they wish to intentionally walk to player going up to bat. The umpire would then award the batter to first base without a single pitch being thrown.
The problem with the fact that the league wants to make games go by faster by doing this is that it really won’t speed games up at all. Some estimates say that it’ll speed up the game by 35 seconds. Others say the game will only make the game 14 seconds faster. There are many other ways they can speed up the pace of play during games that wouldn’t take away from the game itself.
This new rule takes so much away from the game. A team can decide to intentionally walk a batter for many different reasons, whether it be the eighth batter in the lineup so they can pitch to the pitcher who is normally not the best hitter in the lineup or to avoid pitching to a good batter on the team.
Taking away the pitches in an intentional walk takes more away from the game than most people realize, one of the biggest being that anything can happen when you throw a pitch. If you have ever seen someone being intentionally walked, I am sure you have noticed how non-sealant the pitcher is when throwing the ball to the catcher. There have been instances where the pitcher throws the ball wildly to the point where it goes past the catcher, allowing someone on base to take an extra base without the fear of being thrown out. Things like this happen more than people know, and can even change the outcome of the game.
This may not be a rule change that is detrimental to the game of baseball, but it is one that doesn’t make any sense, and ultimately will not do anything to make the game better. And the fact that it is changing a rule that has impacted games in the past just adds to the fact that this rule change makes no sense at all.