If you think Major League Baseball’s new mound visits rule is wild (it’s not), you haven’t seen anything yet.
It’s no secret baseball is in dire need of an adrenaline shot. Addressing pace of play and overall game time will help, but shaving seconds will do little to erase the “boring” label that — fair or not — has been attached to baseball in recent seasons.
That brings us to a particularly radical rule change MLB is considering, which was brought up during a recent episode of the “Rich Eisen Show.” Essentially, teams would be allowed to bat whoever they want in the ninth inning if they’re trailing.
So, for example, if the New York Yankees are losing in the ninth, they can throw up Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, even if they batted the previous inning.
But before you light your torches and dust off your pitchforks, listen to Eisen explain the rationale behind the rule:
Whether you’re a baseball traditionalist or not, this would be an admittedly difficult change to get used to (especially for actual baseball players, who can’t even accept a cap on their mound visits.)
Opponents to such a change probably would say, “Hey, if 7-8-9 is due up in the ninth, tough luck — that’s how the cookie crumbles.” But what if the cookie is stupid and boring?
And don’t try and say it’s a “strategy thing,” and that “if a team doesn’t want the bottom of its order up in the ninth, it should’ve put someone on in the eighth inning.” Whoever comes to the plate in an inning is total happenstance; if a team bats around in the middle of the game, the chain reaction could result in the bottom of their lineup being due up at the end. Success inadvertently creating punishment really isn’t a thing in any other sport.
Now, if you want to say a team should suck it up and not have crappy hitters batting at the bottom of the lineup — well, we won’t argue.
But ask yourselves this: If you’re flipping channels and land on “Wednesday Night Baseball” with the Los Angeles Angels about to bat in the bottom of the ninth trailing 2-0, would you stick around to watch Kaleb Cowart and Michael Hermosillo, or would you rather see Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani?
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images
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