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Tell It To The Judge

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The end of the 2020 baseball season is approaching soon. With most teams having thirteen to fourteen games left before the playoffs, there is a sense of excitement in the air. Sixteen out of thirty teams will make the post season this year. Giving more fans the chance to dream the dream of winning a World Series and having a grand celebration down the canyons of their own cities.

Did I just say that? 16 teams in the playoffs? Hey, if it’s good enough for the NHL, then it’s good enough for major league baseball. Or is it? Will MLB decide to keep this format next year and beyond? I believe if they make more money doing it this way, they will. Never go backwards when it comes to making money, that’s what owners always say.

Until 1969, two teams won their league championship and then met in the “Fall Classic.” Before that, the word playoffs was almost non existent in baseball lingo. Maybe this is a good thing for the game? But are all the other rule changes going to make our game better if they are kept next year and into the future?

There is much talk about some of these, for now, temporary rule changes latching on in a positive way, as well as things that people don’t want to see kept in a permanent way.

The biggest changes we have seen this season are, starting the first inning of extra innings with a runner at second and seven inning doubleheaders. MLB paid millions to the Independent Atlantic League to try these and a number of other rule changes last year and for this year. Unfortunately there was no season for the Atlantic League this year, so being able to evaluated them throughly was impossible.

Pitchers having to face three batters, 18 inch bases, no trips to the mound by the manager unless for injury or to remove a pitcher, moving the pitchers mound back 24 inches, electronically calling pitches and get this, stealing first base, have either been suggested or implemented in that league.

I like many have no problem with tweaking a rule here or there to make the game fair or less complex. Let’s face it, many of the existing rules, require us to have a lawyer sitting next to us to interpret them. Geez, imagine having to sit next to a lawyer for a whole game? I one time played in a Men’s over 40 yr old World Series in Arizona for a week with a team filled with attorneys. They loved to argue about every call, making every game a 7 inning 3 hour marathon.

I have to admit though, the addition of more teams and games to this shortened season’s playoffs, is very intriguing. It will add enthusiasm to what has been a somewhat disappointing season. Not that MLB didn’t try. Under the circumstances of the situation, they did do a good job of bringing us some sort of baseball.

The question though is, will MLB make any of these changes permanent? Will we see the elimination of the umpire calling balls and strikes? This is the one change I hope they never make. If they take out the human factor in deciding a ball or strike and a safe or out, we lose the essence of the argument by players and managers. We are not talking about a dugout or bleacher area filled with lawyers. Just everyday fans enjoying the beauty of the game. The never ending drama of was he safe or was he out? No one ever said it was supposed to be perfect.

What ever happens as baseball moves on from this most unimaginable year, MLB will most likely take some of the things that they see as improving their product into the future of our game. The powers that be in baseball can do what ever they want and they can argue their case but the ultimate judge will be the fans.

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