Major League Baseball is going to look just a bit different this season.
The bases are larger, there will be a pitch clock and limits on pickoffs, and the shift is banned. Oh, and the “Manfred Man” is here to stay (teams start extra innings with an automatic runner on second base).
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is trying his best to cut some time off the game, which on average takes more than three hours to finish. However, a former All-Star pitcher doesn’t think any of the changes will help.
Rob Dibble was asked on the “Don’t @ Me” podcast if the changes in the game will do anything, and he kept it blunt.
“No, it won’t, because it’s idiotic,” Dibble said. “You’re taught, and I teach this at the Little League level, and I’m saying ‘Little League’ very loud, that you pitch in a certain manner, a timely manner, so that your infield stays ready to play defense, your outfield plays defense. They’re ready.
“It’s like basketball. You know, you’re telling guys, get their hands up, be on the balls, and your feet bouncing around. Well, that’s baseball. I always tell my infielders; I scream at them. I don’t care if they’re 8 or 18, that you got to move your feet before every pitch. And so that to say to a pitcher, work in a timely fashion so that there’ll be more action, [is dumb].”
The driving force behind the rule changes is former World Series-winning general manager Theo Epstein, who’s been tabbed as an analytics king. Dibble, while understanding that analytics is a part of the game, said that Epstein and Manfred’s love for the game doesn’t match up with others’.
“I heard what Theo Epstein said,” Dibble said. “It was idiotic. He’s working for Rob Manfred, who doesn’t love baseball like we do, and he’s apologized for being an analytics nerd. He doesn’t need to apologize. I think the game’s fine. I think you can have analytics, you can have old-school mentality. It all works. But when you start hating on the game and saying, ‘We need a pitch clock, we need the pitchers to work faster,’ you know what’s going to happen? Guys are going to throw less strikes and there’s going to be less action.”
He continued: “You want guys to be ready, you want them to concentrate, but you want them to keep their defense involved. So people who don’t know baseball think the pitchers are taking their time out there. Do you think the batters are taking their time out there? They don’t watch baseball. The commissioner has already admitted, ‘I don’t watch baseball. I don’t like baseball. I think the trophy is a hunk of metal.’ I mean, you’ve got to get a commissioner that understands the game, maybe coached the game, maybe played the game and understand that pitchers are already taught, if taught by any kind of qualified teacher or coach, that you work in a timely manner to keep your defense in the game.”
The pitch clock reduced minor league games by about 26 minutes last season, according to a report by MLB.com, while the hope for larger bases and the banning of the shift is more action on the base paths, combined with more hits and stolen bases.