Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Commish

The introduction of the New Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred has already been met with some questions, and some interesting answers.

The first was in regards to the DH in the AL and pitcher batting in the NL. As it stands now the World Series is played under 2 different rules. DH is enforced in AL parks and traditional rules are used in NL venues. Is this fair? Maybe, maybe not. I am not a huge fan of the DH but I understand its usefulness and why players would want it. Sure it gives more jobs and more money to aging players or ones that just can't cut it defensively.  I think that if you are going to play baseball you should have to be able to contribute in all aspects of the game. You don't see designated putters on the PGA or a player that gets to stand in the offensive end or get to take all free throws and be a designated shooter. The good news is the new Commish does not look like he is interested in adding the DH to the National League.

One that caught many peoples ears and eyes that people seemed to take more issue with was his comments about defensive player shifts.  In one of his first interviews after officially taking over he talked about defensive shifts. At first it sounded like he would like to have that part of the game taken away from teams. It sounds similar to when the NBA adopted the Illegal Defense rule, which was essentially a zone defense.  The idea there was to aid offence and free up the skilled 1-on1 guys. Thankfully they smartened up and got rid of that rules.

Who knows what Manford's motivation of that idea was. Maybe he thought that it slowed down play having guys moving around the field and taking too much time. If that were the issue then save time somewhere else. Make the batters stay half in the box and back ready to hit. If there is no one on base it should not take long to flash signs and then get back in. Same with the pitchers, grab the ball get the sign and throw. There is no need to walk around back of the mound, take your glove off, and rub the ball then stroll back up to the rubber. Pitcher-catchers conferences with a pitcher should count as a mound meeting not just when a coach comes out. All those are much better alternatives if you are looking to shed a few minutes off the overall game time.

Whatever the motivation is or was at the time has not met well with much of the baseball world, and who could blame them?

Why should teams get penalized for making pro active and making in-game adjustments? With all the data and statistics that baseball people are now using (which, at times seems a little much, with WaR and all the other sabermetrics out there), why not let them used the data that is available and set the defense according to trends. IF you put on a right field shift to a leftie power hitter and that forces the batter to have to decide weather to hit through a shift or disrupt his regular rhythm and try and hit away from the defense.

A lot of people are not huge fans of the shift but having the right to do it should be up to the individual managers and ball clubs.

I recall calling for a defensive shift while playing shortstop at the Bantam and Midget levels. At the time I had the center fielder move in from the outfield and play behind the 2nd base bag. At the time any hit to the outfield would have resulted in the winning run to come in, and the batter I had noted liked to go back up the middle.  We clogged up the infield and forced the batter to beat us with either a hit to the outfield or earn it with a hit threw our drawn infield. The pitch was hit right back threw the box right at the center fielder who was now directly behind 2nd, thus starting a double play. Sometimes playing the percentages works.

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