Manfred's vision is a joke

On top of Rob Manfred's undying allegiance to the billionaire trying to move the A's from the 15th highest television audience to the 40th, Manfred has been the architect of another farce: MLB's experimentation with baseball's rules. Since September is upon us, it's time to step back and consider the result of Dr. Frankenstein's shock treatment.

Baseball Doesn't Exist makes a fantastic argument against the rules changes this year, especially the pitch clock. The fact that Max Scherzer found a loophole within one week—necessitating an MLB pre-season rule change—is proof enough that MLB had not thought things through as well as they'd bragged about before Opening Day.

Less-publicized rule changes to the clock were made throughout the season as pitchers and batters discovered novel loopholes. A move by the MLBPA to soften the pitch clock for the playoffs was dismissed, but hell, would you wager against MLB monkeying with the clock in future seasons? I'll take the under.

As the ESPN article above points out, "nearly two-thirds of regular-season games have ended without a violation." But that means over one-third of games have ended with a pitch clock violation. That doesn't strike me as a ringing success. Nor does the fact that stolen bases are up 30% simply by MLB snapping its fingers and mandating esoteric alterations to tried-and-true rules.

Having shaken off the steroid era, MLB discovered it was addicted to what those 1990s steroid cocktails brought to the table: Excitement, increased viewership, and most of all, relevance. Since juicing players was out of the question, MLB decided to juice the game (and, not coincidentally, deaden the balls).

I'm convinced there exist better ways to speed up baseball: Rules to keep batters within the box, for example, and clamping down on the balk for pitchers. MLB's new rules against the shift are the least controversial of the bunch, and worth keeping.

Most esoteric baseball rules are there for balancing reasons—third strike in the dirt, the second base neighborhood play, and so on. Even instant replay was, in theory, added to level the playing field. 2023's new rules are about putting more money in MLB's pocket. If fans like them, yea for them, but it's sad to see the national sports media obediently trumpet them with little to no critical examination.

If the commissioner of baseball wants to speed up the game, there's always the option of reducing dead time between innings, or lowering the amount of time pitchers get to warm up after a pitching change—in other words, to reduce advertising time. Will those changes be considered next season? As stated above: I'll take the under.