Spring training is here! At the end of last season there were some rules that were announced would go into full effect this season. I discussed those rules in this post back in November. However, there are two more rules that are being enforced that were announced this past Tuesday.
Ghost Runner in Extra Innings
At the end of last season the league led fans to believe that the ghost runner in extra innings rule was being abolished. Earlier this week, however, the league announced it is being permanently implemented. I totally understand the goal with this rule is to keep extra innings to a minimum and not have marathon fifteen to twenty inning games. While limiting extra innings is a good thing the automatic runner for both teams in extras is actually a horrible thing because it steals the suspense and climactic moments that come from the strategy managers use to win in extras.
So, instead of making this rule permanent managers and their coaching staffs need to start teaching todays players to be more aggressive on the basepaths. They also need to start teaching todays players the best times to be bunting. These are skills that players need to now how to use to make games more interesting, especially in extra innings.
This rule never should have been even as much as tested… managers needed to start managing again instead of testing this rule in the first place.
Position Players Pitching
Watching a position player pitch in a blowout has always been a fun thing. Sadly though it has gotten a bit out of hand in recent years. To help keep the competitiveness of the game the leagues in implementing and enforcing a new rule that will only allow position players to pitch if their team is winning by 10 or more, losing by 8 or more, or the game is in extras.
Some have argued over the last few days that if a team want to throw a game away having a position player pitch they should be allowed to do that without limitations. Unfortunately, that would take away the competitive balance fans are used to seeing. This seems to clearly be about keeping the game competitive at the major league level. That is where two-way players like Shohei Ohtani come in.
My fellow blogger and friend Mr. Leblang reminded me of a game that I once saw on ESPN Classic from 1986 where Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco traded places a couple of times in the tenth and twelfth innings. You can read more about this over at Metsmerized Online.
You might be asking what does that game from 1986 have to do with this new rule. Well, look at it from the perspective of the Universal DH rule that was added. Using my aforementioned example of Ohtani and now LA Angel Brett Phillips the Angels would be able to have Phillips pitch on a day that Ohtani started and as long as Ohtani stayed in the game as an outfielder or replaced the DH he would be able to take the mound again once Brett Phillips has faced at least 3 batters. Same goes for Phillips as long as they just swap the two straight up.
I love this rule to bring the competitiveness back to the game. That said, I do think the rule could be improved by only allowing the losing team to use a position player or DH anytime in the game instead of only in the eighth, ninth, or extra innings because when a team is losing by ten in the fifth or sixth inning they may want to save their bullpen in case the other teams offense is able to close the game.
If it were to be revised this way to only allow losing teams to use a position player or DH on the mound it would be work like this: the team down by 10 or more runs is allowed to use a position player or DH on the mound anytime after the fifth inning. This would allow teams to save their closer from pitching in a loss in the case their offense is able to come back and take a lead and it would add competitiveness back to the game.
With that… it is almost time to play ball!
If you cannot play with them, root for them!