Around the Hill: How Does MLB Stay Relevant in this Day and Age?

David Minster, Maroon-News Staff

Baseball’s rules have changed drastically over time, but the sport is still criticized as being too slow with minimal activity. The league recently implemented a pace-of-play rule, speeding up the game and lessening the time between pitches and walk ups. Aside from hurrying the game, the league has been using instant replay more often and cracking down on dirty slides. However, this is not enough. One rule that should be changed is the intentional walk. Intentionally walking the biggest and best hitters on the team makes the game boring and no one bothers to pay attention to the at-bat. Although intentionally walking batters is strategic, it takes away from the game. Last season, Paul Goldschmidt batted .321, hit 33 homers and had 110 RBIs, but he was intentionally walked 29 times. Goldschmidt could have put up bigger numbers had he not been intentionally walked so many times and possibly could have won the NL MVP over Bryce Harper. Lobbing the ball to the catcher away from the plate is a sad excuse for an at-bat. If the pitcher wants to walk the batter, he should have to throw a ball just outside of the strike zone, at least giving the batter a chance to hit it. Eliminating intentional walks would speed up the game, allow more hits and home runs and ultimately make the game better.

Reed Schultz, Maroon-News Staff 

The popularity of baseball, America’s pasttime, is clearly on the decline. While it is one of the country’s oldest sports, it is significantly less fast-paced and thrilling than sports like basketball and football in my opinion. Recently, MLB has instituted new rules in order to make the games faster. It is my belief that no matter the amount of rule changes, the game will always be fundamentally slow. Instead of making the game faster, MLB needs to do a better job of making it more entertaining and allow for more self expression. A recently debated topic has been Jose Bautista’s infamous bat flip in the playoffs last year. Many people saw it as unsportsmanlike and inappropriate. I personally think that players and teams need to have more flare. MLB should foster ways in which players and teams can create a culturally relative image. An example of this is the emergence of the “dab” which was made famous by Cam Newton. This incredibly basic dance move swept the nation and essentially became a cultural phenomenon. The NFL is more entertaining to me because individuals are able to express themselves and show their true personalities. MLB simply doesn’t have the cultural relevance and celebrity status that other sports do. I think the league could infinitely improve this if they allowed players to have more fun and be more daring. The image that MLB tries to portray is antiquated in my opinion. Rules to make the game faster will not make the game that much more entertaining or exciting.

Jake Rosenstein, Maroon-News Staff

Spring means baseball season and baseball season means people complaining about how slow and boring baseball is. Even 2015 MLB MVP Bryce Harper donned a hat with the moniker “Make Baseball Fun Again” in support of this campaign against the antiquated slow pace of baseball. I personally love the sport and don’t think it needs any rule changes. I could sit back, crack open a cold one and watch my Mets play for three hours on a Sunday afternoon but I understand where others are coming from. Those who understand sabermetrics (the science of baseball statistics) would be able to stay focused for the duration of the game, but the vast majority of the population would find themselves dozing off. One rule change that could alleviate this slow pace of play, which I don’t necessarily endorse, could be limiting batters from stepping out of the batters box. Batters, often multiple times per at bat, will step off from the plate to tighten their gloves, fix their helmets, adjust their grip, etc. and this greatly extends the time per plate appearance. Pitchers also can take a long time per pitch, but there is already a time limit on pitchers in between batters, so more rules on pitchers might hurt the game. Baseball, in my opinion, is perfect just as it is, but to appeal to more people,  it may have to adjust its pace of play rules.