While the Chicago Cubs deal with decisions over whether or not they should mortgage part of their future for a better chance at success in the present, another debate topic has been percolating around the sport of baseball, as discussions abound as to whether or not MLB should move back the non-waiver trade deadline.
That deadline, which currently sits on July 31, was established in 1986, when baseball only had four playoff teams each season. That meant that by the middle of July, teams knew whether or not they were in viable contention for a playoff spot, and that meant that more teams were able to make decisions as to how they should proceed in terms of roster construction.
Nowadays, that number has increased to 10 teams, and you now have teams like the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers that still have an outside chance of making the postseason instead of knowing that they should be selling off assets and going in a completely new direction.
With that in mind, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says that the league would be interested in changing the deadline:
“I think that the July 31st deadline is something that we may want to revisit in the context of the revised playoff format,” he said. “Obviously when you have two additional opportunities to be in the playoffs, you have more teams in the hunt and they may want to wait a little longer before they make decisions.”
Manfred’s statements bring up two interesting questions: should MLB change the deadline date, and if so, when should they move it to?
The answer to the first question is an emphatic yes. Having a dearth of trading partners makes the trade deadline pretty much meaningless as it stands right now, but moving the date would give teams an opportunity to either hold out longer before making a decision or take advantage of their status as sellers in order to get better deals on starting pitchers, giving teams more bang for their buck in a trade and likely increasing the return in those swaps.
As for when the deadline should be set, an August 31 deadline would be feasible, but likely shouldn’t be adopted. If a team were to trade for a starting pitcher, it seems unlikely they would be willing to give up much of anything for a guy who will only get a handful of starts before the postseason begins. Can you imagine the return the Detroit Tigers would get on David Price if they waited until there was only one month remaining in the season to ship him out?
Instead, the league should push the deadline back by two weeks, putting it at August 15. There is still plenty of meaningful baseball that could be played at that point, and it doesn’t really impact the return on players as much as a month-long extension would.
Remember a time when people would have to wait days to see how their favorite player played in the newspaper, or even waiting till the end of the 10 o’clock news to find out if your favorite team had won?
Well luckily for me I’m too young to remember having wait days for the information but I did start my fandom having to wait till the nine or ten o’clock news programs to find out if Jack McDowell had shut out the Kirby Puckett led Minnesota Twins.
These days information is easily available to anyone that has a connection to the internet. This has caused a “want it now and quick” mentality that has minimized people’s attention span to a very short amount of time. What keeps people into games is the constant action so they’re not just sitting around losing their focus to everything going on around them or their phones. So what can be done to make it at least appear to a person watching ball games as though the game is constantly moving at a good pace?
In this four part series I’ll break down several things that hitters, fielders, pitchers, management and even broadcasts can do to combine to boost the pace of the game to draw back in the average fans and the younger views to the stadiums and T.V. broadcasts.
This article as titled is focused on looking at what hitters can do to help quicken the pace of play. The hitters are one of the easiest targets to pick on in regards to this topic. The simplest contribution the hitters can make is cutting out the between pitches routines.
An example of one of the worst offenders of getting out of the batter’s box and going through an elongated routine is David Ortiz. Ortiz normally steps out with both feet, adjusts the straps on his batting gloves and then spitting into his hands and rubbing them together before he looks around and then takes his time getting back into his stance. Over the last eight seasons he has averaged 24.25 seconds between the pitches he sees each at-bat. If Ortiz and hitters in general can knock their paces down to 10 to 15 seconds per at-bat it could save 12 minutes per game if both teams pitched a perfect game in the nine innings.
Since that’s obviously not possible any extra hitters that cut down on their pace could save the even more time throughout the game. So how could MLB go about doing that?
Easiest solution is to have each batter in between pitches step out with one foot, look down to the third base coach to get the sign, and then step back in to get into their stance.
Last Friday MLB announced a rule this morning that, “Umpires will enforce Rule 6.02(d), which requires hitters to keep one foot in the box during an at-bat, subject to certain exceptions.”
Unfortunately this rule has a major flaw in it. Rule 6.02(d) states that, “The exceptions that allow a hitter to leave the box include swinging at a pitch, being forced out of the box by a pitch, a time out or if the team in the field attempts a play on a runner at any base.”
So with how often players are swinging at pitches these days, this rule will have little effect on keeping hitters in the box and at a good pace. Hopefully they’ll change this rule to take out the exception of a hitter swinging at a pitch. If they do that and keep hitters in the box throughout the at-bat it will cause players to cut down on their routines, like Ortiz’s so that this rule will actually have an effect on the pace of play instead of just changing where players do their routines when they don’t swing at a pitch.