Trying to adjust to baseball’s new rules

by Gary Shelton on March 27, 2023

in general

Monday, 4 a.m.

So who is ready for a little Arena Baseball?

Yeah, it's time for the great game of baseball, a sport that relishes traditions more than any other, a game that embraces its rich history, a game where the legends cling to relevancy.

And they keep reinventing it.

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So get ready. Here comes fat bases and pitch clocks and throw-over counters and shift sheriffs and revved up base running. One can assume that four balls still constitute a walk, but that rule is under review.


Maybe it's just me, but for the most part, I like baseball the way it was. I see no need to constantly tinker with it. But that's just me. We live in an age of virtual reality and laser beams. There is a constant need to juice up our entertainment.

I get it. Call me an old fuddy-duddy. And it's true -- I prefer the game without the designated hitter. But that ship has sailed, hasn't it?

I admit. I do like instant replay, if only for the astonishing amount of time that it shows that the umpires are watching something other than the game.

We'll get used to these rules, too. The pitch clock will have a couple of blow-ups early, maybe including a called strikeout to end a game. But eventually, the pitchers and hitters will all get into their rhythm. Besides, who wants to see a .111 hitter adjust his gloves 93 times between pitches. Hey, if the gloves were helping, he wouldn't be hitting .111.

The oversized bases? If it makes the game safer, and if it stops the constant oversliding of second, it's okay. Back in the playground, remember, second base was as big as the nearest slice of cardboard laying nearby.

The absence of shifts will be a tougher adjustment. The Rays didn't use as much last season as you might think, but they've won a lot of games with it over the years. Still, it will be good to see left-handed hitters without a disadvantage.

For me, the biggest rule change is the limited number of throw-overs to first base. Can you imagine the lead a runner will get when the pitcher is out of chances to try for a pickoff? I think we're going to see a 100-steal season.

Of course, the rule that I hate most is the one that vexes me greatly, is the ghost-runner rule where teams get a free baserunner on second base at the start of each extra inning. It's a stilly rule, a slow pitch-softball rule.

Agreed, it's an attempt to shorten games. But I go back to this: I've never complained about the length of a good baseball game. (When it's 8-0, I'm ready to lop off innings, not to mention the heads of third-base coaches). Just play the darn game, guys.

The thing is, we'll adjust.

Eventually, however, more changes are coming to the rules. Just wait.

Who knows? Maybe the Rays' hitters will get a big kid to take their last strike.

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