Rule Changes in Baseball

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With the news that the NFL is changing the way they do kickoffs, and the discussion that has ensued, I felt it would be interesting to take a look at some of the rule changes in baseball and grade their effectiveness and impact on the game. (Information thanks to Baseball-Almanac)

Rule: In 1908 the sacrifice fly rule was adopted, revoked, but then re-instituted in 1954.
Grade: C+
Reasoning:
Although not as deliberate a sacrifice as a sacrifice bunt, the sacrifice fly can be used as an important strategic move in any baseball game. Simply getting a baserunner to third with less than two outs is a tough task and teams will want to score that run, the sacrifice fly allows that to happen without the benefit of a hit. The rule itself is good in my opinion, I think if you can be ‘doubled off’ a base, then you should be allowed to advance from the base on a caught ball as well. It adds more scoring to baseball, and can be the difference between a win or a loss and that’s fine, because I feel the run is earned. The part of the rule I don’t agree with is the fact that it doesn’t count as an at-bat.

If a player hits a sacrifice fly, it counts only as a plate appearance and not as an at-bat, so it doesn’t hurt their batting average. However, how many sacrifice flys are truly that, a sacrifice? Most sacrifice bunts are exactly that, giving up yourself to move a baserunner, however, a far less percentage of sacrifice flys are truly the intended purpose of the hitter. Some hitters may be trying to simply bash a home run and hit a sacrifice fly by mistake. I think the sacrifice fly should count against a player’s batting average, because they already receive an RBI as a reward and it can’t be proved if they are truly making a sacrifice.

Rule: 1889, Four balls becomes a base on balls
Grade: A+
Reasoning:
The rule was bumped down from 6 in 1884, and 5 in 1887, let’s face it, if you can’t throw three strikes before four balls, a walk needs to occur.

Rule:1968, the anti-spitball rule was written
Grade: A+
Reasoning:
That’s gross.

Rule: 2008, Limited instant replay allowed on home runs or fair or foul calls.
Grade: C
Reasoning:
If you have the technology, use it. I’m not saying balls and strikes should be determined by a computer, but similar to football, I think the managers should be allowed one challenge each game that may be used on out calls on the basepaths. The variable of a strikezone adds to the intrigue of the game, but the rule of safe and out is so cut and dry that I think if a play is going to change a game drastically, a replay can be used. Only allow one a game so the run of play isn’t affected. If this rule were amended, we’d at least have one more perfect game in MLB history!

The Curve Home Opener is April 14th!



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