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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Baseball Think: contradictory and unimaginative. Radical Baseball: increase roster, designated fielder, re-entry.

The commissioner's TV network, aka, MLB Network, yesterday had exceptional examples of Baseball Think, the mind numbness that people suffer when they drift into baseball mode.  Otherwise intelligent and/or educated people simply say things that make little or no sense.

Some young guy replaced Brian Kenny and droned on about how terrible it was that the rules changed in the month of September when rosters expand from 25 to 40.  An idea by one panelist was promoted: expand the roster to 30 but only dress 25, oh, and limit the number of pitchers to thirteen.

That's not a bad idea.  The obvious problem is that it does not address the cause for concern, that September has different rules.  It simply replaces the objectionable rule with one that is less objectionable but still different from the rules of the first five months.  Isn't that pretty obvious?  So how come it never occurred to them?

I have advocated for years that the rules remain the same for the entire season.  That includes roster expansion for part of the season but also trades in the first four months but not in the final two months.  Somehow, that was overlooked on the commissioner's TV network.  There should be NO trades during the season.

FYI: I have long advocated that rosters be increased from 25 to 30 but that only 25 can be dressed.  That would eliminate dead spots for starting pitchers on the days when they do not start.  It would provide managers with something that they dread: decisions to make, which brings me to the other item addressed.

On the Chris "Mad Dog" Russo show they discussed the inconsistency of the designated hitter (DH).  As usual they ignored the fact that the American and National Leagues merged in 1999 into what I call the Major Baseball League (MBL).  Competing leagues do not play regular season games against each other.  Nor do they share a commissioner and umpires.  Russo approved the National Conference owners refusing to adopt the DH, in part, because Russo thinks that is more interesting and provides more tactical decisions.

1. Pitchers are evaluated on their pitching, not hitting or even fielding.  There is nothing entertaining about watching a pitcher bat when he's not even required to have good eye sight.  It's dumb.

2. The original DH rule was and is dumb.  It should have been a designated fielder (DF) rule with an eight man batting order.  Any objection to that now by the players union can be overcome as any such objection can: increase the roster by one.  While the mix of players will lose a high paid DH such as David Ortiz it will provide an opportunity to be on an active roster to at least 80% of players, both hitters and pitchers, at some point in their careers.  That's why the players would approve.

The owners would approve because it would obviously make the game much more interesting.  The extra pay for marginal players would be very small as a percentage of overall payroll and the extra players might pay for themselves by reducing injuries to top players.  Many more plate appearances would be provided to all players, especially those at the top of the lineup.  And scoring would naturally increase, both through that and the elimination of the pitcher batting in the National Conference.

3. Allow players to re-enter the game.  Come on already.  It's way overdue and yet no one even suggests it.  Rob "Bud Light" Manfred is supposed to be the commissioner who will consider new ideas, right?  Must those ideas be only timid and unimaginative?  I'd suggest:
- Re-entry must be within a spot in the batting order.
- Pitchers may be changed on the fly but the batter change follows because pitchers have the advantage.  And, no, changes do not involve non-players waddling out onto the field.  It would be more like basketball.

So for the National Conference advocates who revel in the few decisions that are made during a game my changes would increase the number of tactical options enormously.  Current rules restrict the manager.  Teams carry 13 pitchers so there are only a few other substitutes and their use is very limited.  If you want a much bigger set of options, adopt my recommendations.  If you want to continue to wallow in the limited tactics of 100 years ago, then stick with the dysfunctional and contradictory mess that has evolved without much thought.

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