Baseball's New Rule Changes Were a Smashing Success This Weekend
We're a weekend into the new era of baseball and I think I speak for most when I say the rule changes that were put into effect have been a massive success. I'm extremely skeptical of anything that comes from the desk of Rob Manfred, but I have to admit they knocked it out of the park here. Change like this usually takes time to adjust to, but I get the vibe that a large majority of fans are fully in favor of what they've seen so far.
If you watched games this weekend there were two obvious differences. 1) Game time shrunk significantly and 2) stolen bases were WAY up.
Let's start with time and look at stats.
Incredible. Now here's the thing. While the games were quicker I didn't get the feeling that the gameplay itself was altered in a negative way. Were there some hiccups? Absolutely. It'd be bizarre if there weren't this early on. Devers got a strike three call for not looking at the pitcher with 8 seconds left, but at the same time how are you gonna call that when the pitcher himself wasn't ready?
Naturally Red Sox fans lost their shit when this happened and cried that this isn't making the game better. There are going to be hiccups, but in the end it's going to make the game better and more watchable. MLB has taken away the bullshit and instead given us a product that involves constant action. I was always going to watch no matter what because I'm a baseball junkie, but I can safely admit this is a better version of the game. Bryce Harper voiced his disgust for the clock, but he'll adjust and be fine in no time once he returns to the field.
One thing to keep an eye on is a pitcher's fatigue during long innings. It's gotta be exhausting if you're out there for a 25+ pitch inning having to throw the ball 15-20 seconds and have to worry about the running game. If you're in a rhythm you can be in and out of there in two minutes, but long innings might gas pitchers way more than in the past. Also my theory that the clock would prevent Gerrit Cole from getting inside of his own head and force him to just pitch is 1 for 1 so far.
The other part of the game that has drastically changed is the uptick in stolen bases. I mean look at this shit.
Speed is now very much back in the game. Jorge Mateo has already swiped four bags while Cedric Mullins, Anthony Volpe, Corbin Carroll, and Chas McCormick each have three. You don't even need to be speed demon to be successful now. If you're smart and can use the clock/pickoff rules in your favor you can wreak havoc. Look at my young Italian prince doing whatever he wants.
Once again, the comparative numbers from last year are really something to behold. I wonder how many stolen bases Rickey Henderson would have had if he played with these rules. 200?
There are a few things still to iron out, especially trying to prevent a situation like with Devers above, but the overall vibe here is very good. The one thing I'm now curious about is what it's like in-person as a fan. I wonder if there's going to be a lot more ordering food from your seat with how much gameplay you could miss if you get up to walk around. I'm willing to make that change for the better of the game. Credit to me.