In case you haven’t heard, Major League Baseball is currently experimenting with a pair of game changing ideas in their partnership with the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, most notably robot umpires (story HERE) and the ability to steal first base (story HERE).
These are fun stories to write about, but MLB should put them on the shelf for now.
This is because baseball fans, some of the few remaining traditionalist in sports, like the game the way it is. Instant replay is already a touchy subject, and rule changes to make the games shorter have been met with mixed reviews, sadly enough, the games are still too long despite changes.
These rules would also lead to even higher scoring games with more home runs. OK, you’re asking “Hey Frank, we like offense, didn’t home runs save baseball back in the late 90s?”
Well, everyone likes home runs, and many of those players were also “juiced” out of their minds with performance enhancing drugs. A controversy it still hasn’t lived down. Currently, the league is also on pace to beat it’s own season record by over 500 home runs (story HERE). That’s out of control. Pitchers are frustrated and who can blame them.
Now, those same pitchers will be even more reluctant to take chances because if their catchers let the ball get behind them, the batters can take off to first base.
This along with robotic umpires that remove an easy to diagnose human element with officiating from the game, might be too much change for fans.
But we should applaud MLB for continuing to explore new ideas for the game. There is a very good chance that baseball will need to evolve to keep up with it’s faster moving cousins on the football fields and basketball courts.
Let’s continue to explore possibilities, but let’s table the robot umps, and wild baserunning rules for now.