I think I hate this more than I hate the designated-hitter rule. [Warning: autostart video.]
As part of its initiative to improve the pace of game play, Major League Baseball has approved a change to the intentional walk rule, going from the traditional four-pitch walk to a dugout signal, it was announced Wednesday.
MLB has studied various ways to quicken games.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported earlier this month that MLB had made formal proposals to the players’ union to usher in raising the strike zone and scrapping the practice of lobbing four balls toward home plate to issue an intentional walk.
Getting rid of the old-fashioned intentional walk would eliminate about a minute of dead time per walk. In an age when intentional walks actually have been declining — there were just 932 all last season (or one every 2.6 games) — that time savings would be minimal. But MLB saw the practice of lobbing four meaningless pitches as antiquated.
If they were always meaningless, then maybe. But sometimes they aren’t.
Nor is this the only Bad Idea in circulation before spring training:
There is apparently some proposal afoot to make baseball games more palatable and exciting for the 140-character limit crowd by starting off any extra innings with a runner on second.
This is plainly blasphemy, as baseball is one of those games that is rather deliberately not bounded by time. Like a tennis match, a baseball game takes as long as it takes.
These ideas are so horrid it’s amazing that Bud Selig didn’t think them up himself.