Opinion: Get Used to Baseball Changing


Media by Annabelle Miller

Baseball fans will have new rules to contend with when they return to Busch Stadium this season. The MLB added a pitch clock, new regulations on the shift, larger bases, limits on pick-off attempts and regulation on position players pitching.

With the start of the Cardinals Baseball season, many fans are getting their first look at new Major League Baseball (MLB) rules in action.

One of the major changes to the MLB this year is the shift rule. In past years, infielders could shift so that all fielders were on one side of the field. The shift was used against players who had a habit of pulling the ball or hitting to the opposite field. Any ball hit into the shift was almost a guaranteed out.

This year, there must be two infielders on each side of second base and all infielders must be on the infield dirt. Players are allowed to move when the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. 

The league batting average hit an all-time low last year, according to ESPN, but this rule should change that downward trend. With the fielders more spread out, getting a hit becomes much easier for players who tend to hit in one direction. 

As a Cardinals fan and softball player, I’ve always hated the shift. It completely bends the rules of baseball. When players are constantly getting good hits and not getting on base, something needs to be done. The new shift rule will highlight the most exciting parts of the game: hard hits and diving plays. 

A ground ball up the middle to the shortstop will become a diving stop or base hit this year. Infielders will have the chance to make more show-stopping plays, and more batters will get on base. All of this will add to the excitement of the game, which is the reason fans watch.

Although I’m in full support of the shift rule, I can’t say the same for the new pitch clock.

A pitcher now has 15 seconds to pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds when runners are on. If they do not pitch in the allotted time, an automatic ball is called. The batter must step into the box before the countdown reaches eight seconds or a strike will be called against them. 

The pitch clock was implemented in the minor leagues last season, reducing the average game time by 20 minutes. 

I don’t see the real benefit of having 20 minutes less of a game. The pitch clock interrupts the natural flow of baseball and creates unnecessary pressure on pitchers and hitters. The ability to mentally reset before each pitch is an essential factor in a batter’s performance. Taking time away from players could lead to more errors, strikeouts and wild pitches. The fans come to see big hits, all-star plays and nasty pitches, but the pitch clock will definitely take some of these away. 

Before players adjust to the change, it’s going to be a major distraction to hitters and pitchers. Sports channels will have less coverage to broadcast and ballparks may lose money from the decreased concession sales. 

A few other changes the MLB added this season include larger bases, pick-off limits and a regulation on position players pitching. The larger bases and 2-attempt pick-off limit will likely cause more steal attempts, which will be exciting. The rivalry between baserunners and catchers has always been a highly heated competition, and it will be in full force this season. 

 The baseball America loves is back for another season, and many of the new rules will only add to the exciting atmosphere felt around the country.