No sport is safe from the inevitable chatter of executives wanting to make a change for the sake of sprucing things up. This time, Major League Baseball (MLB) has put forth a new rule change to be tested in the Minor Leagues during the 2017 season. The new rule is going to see a baserunner placed on second base at the beginning of the 10th inning.
This rule has seen a lot of outcry among baseball fans, many of whom feel that the game is perfect the way it is and doesn’t need changing. While MLB has become the most recent league to propose and enforce change, other organizations, such as FIFA, have also brought forth changes to seemingly unimportant “problems.”
This brings up a larger issue in sports that sees leagues who attempt at change is attracting attention to their sport. Baseball is a sport that has deep roots in tradition and even the recent addition of video replay took a long time to get implemented and has still been receiving criticism for the amount of time it adds to any given baseball game.
MLB is simply trying to create a stir and “invigorate” the game in a way that would likely see higher scoring and potentially longer games. The new rule is going to make it easy to score, and scoring a run in extra innings will be virtually meaningless now that every team will get a prime opportunity at scoring in extra innings.
Rule changes can be an important amendment to a sport’s current system if there is something truly game-breaking about how the game is played. If a team is actively looking to exploit a rule in bad taste, then a rule change is necessary.
What MLB is proposing has only one thing in mind: ratings. The current format doesn’t hurt the game in any way and making a change for the sake of making a change is a poor way to run a league.
After the most recent Super Bowl saw the first overtime result in history, many have clamored for the National Football League (NFL) to change its overtime system to give both teams a chance, whether it is a touchdown or a field goal. This rule change has reasonable legs to stand on, considering the Atlanta Falcons never had an offensive possession.
Sports, more than most things in life, are rooted in tradition. Fandoms are passed down from generation to generation, and superstitions are never more prevalent. When a change to how the game is played is made due to necessity, it’s never a huge problem.
However, when a league makes a rash decision just to “invigorate” a sport that doesn’t necessarily need invigorating, it creates a huge divide between the fans and the executives. The one thing that fans want most is communication, and in MLB’s case, they haven’t received any proper communication or reasoning as to why this change is being made.