It Is The Graveyard For The Shift in Baseball
As fans tune in to the postseason, they may want to pay particular attention that a facet of the game that will never never again be seen. As soon as the 2022 World Series championship is decided, baseball will leave in its past the highly-debated concept of the shift.
As part of the collective bargaining agreement that had delayed the start of the season, both the players union and the owners agreed to eliminate the shift. Each defense must have two infielders between second and the corner bases, as well as at least one foot on the dirt.
Whether or not that move was warranted, or merely an excuse for batters not to adjust their approaches, there are other aspects of baseball games that need to be eliminated along with the shift. Here are ten such unnecessary things that detract from the game experience, and therefore need to be buried with the shift.
1. Umpires calling ball and strikes
Technology has revealed that Big league umps have an 80% accuracy when it comes to determining strikes, but that number can easily be improved by allowing computers to decide. Already in the minor leagues the strikes are determined by technology, resulting in a much more objective, consistent strike zone that will make the game sharper for batters, pitchers and fans.
2. Walk Up Songs
One of the most attractive characteristics of baseball is its serene atmosphere, distinguishing it from the clamor of the NBA and NFL. Fans do not purchase a ticket to get aurally bombarded by music batters find appealing; we would much rather hear the crack of the bat on the ball.
3. God Bless America In the Seventh Inning
Probably “The Star Spangled Banner” should go as well, but we certainly do not need to hear another song praising the country every seventh inning. For the past thirty years baseball officials have been trying to make the sport global, playing games in Japan and Mexico and the United Kingdom. It is difficult to sell a sport as global, while at the same time singing about how much superior your country is to all the others.
4. Every Player Wearing the Same Number on Jackie Robinson Day
It is great that the game honors its first African-American player, but it is ludicrous to require everybody to wear the same number (42).
5. Every player Wearing Same Number on Roberto Clemente Day
Not content with the absurdity of all players wearing 42, baseball officials this year decided to use the inane idea to honor its most iconic Latin American player (21). Future generations will be exposed to even more “same number” days, what with the inevitability of baseball's first woman and first gay and first transgender players.
6. Risk-Free Challenges
Too often managers use the review challenge merely to stall the game, either to break an opponent's momentum or give a reliever more time to warm up. In order to avoid this time-killing tactic, MLB needs to copy the National Hockey League. A coach whose challenge is not overturned is punished, as the other team is given a two-minute power play. In baseball, failed challenges could result in an automatic base on balls.
7. Home Team Scorers
Crowd favorites are seldom given an error on an obvious misplay, the home town scorer not wishing to tarnish or upset the player. Conversely, a veteran thin-skinned pitcher, in order to protect his earned run average, often sees an obvious hit being ruled an error on some less-important fielder.
8. Regional Black Outs
Fans with a certain satellite company cannot view their home team's games, even with subscriptions to the Extra Innings package. Baseball's black out policy stipulates that you must watch your team on the local sports station even, when in the case of Dish Network, that station is not available.
9. Current Regular Season Schedule
Seldom in the past decade has a team with the most regular season wins advanced to the World Series, evidenced again this season when the three teams (Dodgers, Braves, Mets) with 100 victories failed to advance to the National League Championship Series. Probably MLB needs to revisit 1981 in order to divide the season in half, the six teams in first place automatically qualifying for the postseason. Each team would then start with a clean slate after the All-Star break, reviving the enthusiasm usually only found in the spring.
10. Geographical Rival Series
While it was exciting to see the Mets play the Yankees and the Cubs battle the White Sox the first couple of years, in the three decades since then it has lost all of its appeal. The new schedule, where every team plays at least one series against every other, makes the geographic rival games pointless.