Baseball purists, grab your torches and pitchforks. It's officially time to go to war.
I regret to inform you that the old men are at it again, floating out comically bad ideas for rules changes in the name of "excitement", because, you know, that 13-12 snooze fest of a Game 5 in this past year's World Series just isn't going to cut it.
First, commissioner Rob Manfred & co. made some reasonable, minor changes to pace of play this week, limiting mound visits per game to six without a pitching change and shortening the time in between innings. Fine, these tweaks will make little to no difference in the grand scheme, and the only person truly upset about them is probably Goose Gossage. But this, this potential (laughable) new rule that Rich Eisen claimed an MLB executive floated to him is so bad that it might actually be the worst idea ever, and it should be treated as such. Here's Eisen on The Rich Eisen Show explaining the farce, one that he "digs," by the way. Puke:
Ah, yes, throw anybody you want in the batter's box in the ninth inning. After that, I think we should have the team's owner fight a bear in center field a la Jackie Moon in Semi Pro. Talk about excitement.
Where to even begin with this pathetic argument. Let's start with the first part of the "in no other sport" garbage. Believe it or not, basketball and baseball are, in fact, DIFFERENT SPORTS. Same with hockey and football and cricket and water polo and soccer and golf and curling. What is this phenomenon with comparing every sport to the other? Each one is unique, that's why we love them.
But the second part, the part that's particularly troubling to hear from AN MLB EXECUTIVE, or whomever it may be, is the "best argument is that no other sport has the best players sitting on the bench in the final minutes of a game, imagine LeBron or Tom Brady or Sidney Crosby or Ronaldo watching on the sideline."
Is this guy high? The portion of the lineup that comes to the plate in the ninth inning is completely random. Same if there is an injury to a star player (sometimes in football), or if someone fouls out (that's in basketball, which is a different sport), or if someone goes to the penalty box (this happens in hockey), or if someone gets a red card (I think this is soccer?). Imagine Sidney Crosby getting a penalty with two minutes to go in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup and the Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said "Nah, we're going to send our backup goalie into the penalty box instead." Or if LeBron fouled out in the Finals and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said, "Nah, I think we'll just keep him in the game." I mean, it's only fair, right?
Anybody remember Super Bowl XLIX, when Tom Brady was literally standing on the sideline watching the Seahawks drive down and blow the game? Anybody remember the 2016 NBA Finals, when Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5 and sat on the bench the entire game? Anybody remember when Chris Kreider knocked out Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals? Oh, no one remembers that? Sorry.
Thank goodness this idea is just an idea for now, but it appears we're going down a slippery slope with these MLB rules changes. What's next? The cracker jack vendor gets to throw a celebrity pitch? Bat boy gets to pinch hit? Part of baseball's allure is the tradition, the strategy, the fact its fans don't need to be smacked over the head with "excitement" for nine innings to enjoy the sport. I'm all for innovating, but let's not turn our national pastime into a three-ring circus.