Here we are once again looking at a fresh new baseball season about to get underway. Hours of entertainment lie ahead with so many games available on television, even for those of us with regular cable. A true harbinger of spring and summer, the annual Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues are underway, having crept under the radar while President Trump stole the spotlight.
And just what does Major League Baseball have up its sleeve for us this year? The powers that be are forever tinkering with the game. As technology advances there are more calls for its use in determining close plays. Yet this year’s alteration actually seems to fly in the face of technology.
I played recreational fast-pitch softball for many years. Quite often in the latter stages of a game, if an intentional walk was to be issued, the process of throwing four pitches outside of the strike zone was omitted and the batter just trotted down to first base. There was a very logical reason for this: we played in a park that had no lights! Daylight was our only means of seeing the ball, as the evening crept in it was deemed frugal to not waste valuable sunlight while walking a batter.
MLB wants to go down a similar road by scrapping the four-pitch intentional walk in favour of a signal that will indicate to the umpire that the batter should make his way to first. No possibility for a balk, or a messed-up attempt at the outside pitch under pressure, or a poorly thrown ball back to the pitcher that allows runners to advance, and no chance to throw two outside pitches then sneak in a strike. Nope, all those little facets of the game that make it so interesting will be replaced by a head nod or a flag from the dugout. Initial rumours that managers would blast Aerosmith’s Walk This Way from the dugout have thankfully been quashed.
Is MLB behind on their electric bill? Are the lights only on for a certain amount of time? Is there another couple of teams that have the park booked for a specific time and therefore the game must be rushed?