Written by Spencer Aiello
As people may or may not know, some major rule changes have been implemented in Major League Baseball for the 2023 season. These rule changes include bigger bases, a pitch clock and banning the shift in the infield. Another major change that might be coming to the MLB is a robotic umpire that would be calling balls and strikes. These rules aim to quicken the game pace and increase attendance rates. These changes, however, have not gone smoothly with fans. The MLB has faced major criticism from its fans and a call for a reversal of the rules.
I am with the fans calling for the reversal. As we have seen with the implementation of these changes inside of spring training and now after the first few opening days, they have already proven to cause problems.
The pitch clock has already claimed its first strikeout victim in MLB history. This came against Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox when he didn’t “engage” the pitcher within his time limit.
The rule states that “batters must be in the box and alert to the pitcher by the eight-second mark or else be charged with an automatic strike.” This is what happened to Devers. He looked up when the clock read seven seconds and was given the strike resulting in a strikeout.
Another example of this rule ruining baseball is when Jeff McNeil of the New York Mets was called on a clock violation when his teammate Pete Alonso didn’t get to first base in enough time after walking. This resulted in a lot of confusion and explanations needing to be made, wasting more time rather than shortening it.
Seeing these changes as someone who has grown up with baseball for all of his life and played it for 15 years, it doesn’t feel like baseball. Baseball was the only game in sports that wasn’t restricted behind a clock until now. If I were to go to a baseball game in person, I don’t want it to be only for two hours. I want to be at the ballpark for as long as I can. I think this feeling is the same for many baseball fans. They would rather show up at the park at 11 a.m. and not leave until 4 p.m. It is about the experience. I feel like that gets lost shortening the games.
I do not like the shift ban either. Players are getting paid millions of dollars each season to go hit a baseball. That means they have proven themselves to be the best of the best at hitting. With the shift, they shouldn’t have any problem laying down a bunt against the shift to get on base. But I wouldn’t be arguing this if it happened.
It’s why I think it was a form of punishment for players who couldn’t adjust and lay down a bunt. It was an easy out for the defense, and the hitter hit straight into it instead of getting on base. I do agree, however, the shift ban forces infielders to be more athletic and make great plays.
The other rule changes aren’t that bad. The bigger bases I am a fan of due to the closer plays and the lesser risk of injury. I feel like that change is good because it means fans will get to see more of their favorite players if they are not injured.
I think overall, the pitch clock and shift ban are moving the game backward instead of forward. It takes away a key part of the game that will not be there, and that’s why it doesn’t feel like baseball anymore.