As part of its initiative to improve the pace of game play, Major League Baseball has approved a change to the intentional walk rule, going from the traditional four-pitch walk to a dugout signal, it was announced Wednesday.
MLB has studied various ways to quicken games.
ESPN's Jayson Stark reported earlier this month that MLB had made formal proposals to the players' union to usher in raising the strike zone and scrapping the practice of lobbing four balls toward home plate to issue an intentional walk.
Getting rid of the old-fashioned intentional walk would eliminate about a minute of dead time per walk. In an age when intentional walks actually have been declining -- there were just 932 all last season (or one every 2.6 games) -- that time savings would be minimal. But MLB saw the practice of lobbing four meaningless pitches as antiquated.
While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.
"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.
"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," he said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there, and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."
I love this move. It's how intentional walks have worked in video games for years. Just press the button and let the guy take his base. No 4 wide ones. Just let the ump know you wanna put this guy on and he can take his base. It's only going to save seconds per game but I still think it's a smart move and shows that baseball may finally be moving in the right direction. 99.98% of the time when there's an intentional walk, nothing exciting happens, it's just wasted time. Now that wasted time is eliminated. This is a good thing. Old baseball stooges stuck in the stone age need to realize this and stop complaining. Of all the things to change in baseball I think this is a very minor tweak that has a lot more pros than cons.
You're never going to find a way to make games significantly shorter unless you eliminate innings from games. I think that's an awful idea, (Just like the idea of a man on 2nd in extra innings) so instead you need to find a bunch of little ways to take away a few seconds here or there that eventually will add up over time.
They've already shortened the time between half innings which has helped. The idea of improving pace of play should be seen like Sabermetrics and Moneyball. One of the biggest changes from that was whole idea that getting on base matters, no matter how you get there, whether it's a walk or a hit. You aren't making outs which is all that matters in that philosophy. Same should be the norm for pace of play. It shouldn't matter how time is shaved off games, if it's effective and doesn't completely change the way the game is played, that's a good thing. I think eliminating the time wasted to actually throw four 70 mph lobs does not change the integrity of the game.
If you dislike this move you're exactly what is wrong with baseball. The game needs to advance. Look at the NFL, they changed the extra point rules when most people really didn't think it needed a change and now has made that boring play much more exciting and meaningful. The crusty old baseball writers who want the game to be played the exact same way it was in 1917 are what's ruining baseball. Like instant replay has been in MLB since 2014. It took until 2014 to get people to agree maybe we should make the right calls on the field. The stone-age approach to Major League Baseball is slowly killing it. Despite its many successes MLB has a problem: it's losing young fans.
Sure baseball is making money hand over fist, but it's old money, if they want to be relevant in 20 years they're going to need to find a way to get young people interested. They think the big problem is pace of play, that the length of a game is the biggest problem. I disagree with that. Maybe to the ADHD generation who can't appreciate the inner workings of baseball, but for the most part people find the game boring and not exciting. But real fans know, ff you're watching a good baseball game the time isn't the factor. Maybe I'm unlike the norm but I love the psychology of baseball. It's a thinking man's game. To a casual fan that is not exciting. I don't know exactly what MLB can, no should I it's not my job all I can do is give advice.
Instead of trying to make gimmicks to make the game more interesting there is a simple way to fix this. Make the game more exciting and relatable to young fans by first introducing young talent to them It's MLB's own fault for not marketing its young stars properly and embracing ways to get young fans interested. Like Mike Trout is easily the best player in baseball but he's almost never nationally televised. It's kind of morbid but like look at Jose Fernandez. His death should have been a much bigger story nationally. Obviously it was covered a ton and was a huge deal in the news. But Jose Fernandez was one of the best young pitchers in all of baseball but he was not marketed that way. Did the average casual Seattle Mariners fan know who he was? Probably not. Baseball needs to find a way to make this next wave of young stars household names. They need to market to young fans and show how exciting the young players across baseball are for the next generation of fans. If baseball was able to move with the times like other sports have then maybe they wouldn't have these problems. Instead of shunning emotion on the field, embrace it. Let guys pimp job homers. If a pitcher gets a huge strikeout to end an inning, let him react how he wants. I think wanting to improve the pace of play in baseball is a good thing, but until they change their antiquated ways on how to relate to kids and make the game exciting there's always going to be a problem getting young people excited about such an old man game.