The Closer: MLB

My favorite sport has always been the national pastime. Baseball has had a special place in my heart since my first ever game in the nation’s capital. I watched my favorite player at the time, Chipper Jones, jog out onto the field as he neared the end of his historic career. 

Baseball historians and analysts have always argued against changes that challenged the great game. As the whirlwind of 2020 swept across the country, sports were changed throughout. These changes seemed obvious from there being little to no fans in the seats to other COVID-19 protocols wreaking havoc all around the league. Rob Manfred and MLB experimented with many other changes in hopes of making the game quicker and more exciting. Let’s go over some of these changes that impacted the game dearly. 

The National League has allowed the pitcher to hit in games, while the American League adopted the designated hitter, which allowed a non-pitcher to hit. The argument of the universal DH has been an ongoing debate for many years. People in favor of the DH argue that it provides more scoring which equals more excitement. Myself and others argue that adding the DH to the National League eliminates the strategy of the game. Many were skeptical of this change to say the least. Yet, MLB decided to try out the universal DH for the 2020 season. The rule is not in place for the 2021 season, but with a new bargaining-agreement being set following next season, it could be back on. I was in favor of experimenting with almost all of these changes for the 2020 season, but I am looking forward to the strategy of the game coming back in 2021. 

Minor league baseball was the first to adopt the new rule in extra innings in hopes of picking up the pace of play. The rule is that each extra inning played would begin with a runner on second base. The runner would be the last batted out in the previous inning. MLB added this rule for the 2020 season in hopes of keeping the games shorter than usual. Although I enjoyed watching this rule for the 2020 season, I think it took away a little bit of the integrity of the game. Hitters were granted an almost free run batted in if they could execute with the runner on second base. It did add to the strategy of the game which was lacking with the pitcher no hitting in either league. This is another rule that I hope remains gone for the 2021 season. 

The one rule that I was really in favor of was the three batter-minimum rule for pitchers. Previous seasons allowed for a pitcher to come into the game, face one batter and then leave the game. Not in 2020. The rule stated that unless it was the end of the inning or an injury had occurred that the pitcher must face three batters. This really increased the strategy of the game. The managers had to think about what pitcher in their bullpen could be trusted enough to face the next three hitters. 

Another few minor changes included the expansion of rosters to 28 players. Hopefully, most of these rule changes, though fun to watch in a shortened season, will be gone in the near future for MLB.

By Nicholas Mundy