By Ben Udstuen
The Major League Baseball Organization has introduced a new system of rules for the 2023 season to try and bring back viewership both in stadium and on broadcast. The biggest change is the pitch clock. Pitchers now must deliver the ball to the plate in a much quicker time than before. The second rule is making the bases 18 inches square, compared to the previous 15 inches square. The final major change is defensive shift alignment. There must be four infielders until the pitch is thrown, and they must be split two and two on either side of second base.
Adding a pitch clock to the MLB alone will make drastic changes even without the other rules. The specifics are that in-between batters there is a 30-second timer, between pitches with no one on base there is a 15-second timer, and between pitches with runners on base there is a 20-second timer. The primary desire of this rule is to move the game along faster and retain interest from fans. It eradicates unwanted downtime in between pitches. Between the period of 2004-2014 the average time of games went from 2.85 hours to 3.13 hours, in many people’s eyes, that is too much time. Unless the viewer is a dedicated fan, there is no chance they enjoy three hours of baseball. A study done showed that the total amount of wasted time, including more than just in between pitches, was around 40 minutes every game.
The next rule implemented is increasing the size of the bases. The primary reason to this change is to try and prevent injuries from happening, it gives players more room to avoid the other player. This will also change the number of attempted steals for each team. It is increasing the room to operate and maneuver while sliding. In 2022 there were 3,297 attempted steals, and 2,486 were successful. Whenever a runner makes the decision to go, it piques the interest of the fans and they get more into it. Breaking the single season steal record is very possible now because of this rule, and when that player is getting close, people will be watching and coming in to try and witness that moment.
The third and final major rule is limiting the shift. There are many reasons that this will be revolutionary, but overall, it will increase the number of balls in play and when a ball is hit, people are enjoying the game more. Batting averages throughout the league have been decreasing since shifts became more prominent, however, there might not be any more perfect games and pitcher’s stats won’t look as good. This rule is huge for batters that always seem to hit it to the same spot but looks dim for players who are great for their defense. This rule, however, will not make the game primarily offense, because great players will still make great plays, and no amount of rule alterations can change that.
In conclusion, the MLB has been on a decline for several years but can still become as great as they once were. A never-before-seen pitch clock will move the game along faster and add more excitement to the game. Injuries will be down because of an increase of base size, and the single season steal record is potentially up for grabs. Limiting the shifts will give more offensive oriented players a chance to show off their game and prove why they’re in the league. Baseball might not be as great as it once was, but players are getting better and these rules have the potential to bring the game back.
Ben Udstuen is a student at Spring Grove High School. He is one of 17 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 24th year.