It had to be more exciting, more exciting and, above all, faster, so Major League Baseball's bosses decided on an unprecedented comprehensive revamp this season. With three new rules, the traditional game is mostly overhauled: shot clock, defensive restrictions, and larger rules.
Attendance numbers at USA Baseball have consistently declined in recent years. Many TV viewers could barely hold on throughout the match. And those who went to the stadium left after more than three hours with sore buttocks. The Major League is stuck in quicksand. Fear of losing interest among young Americans in particular forced the adjustment.
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Koen van der Velden describes De Volkskrant About sports in the United States. Lives in New York.
“Three new rules.” More movement.' Thus concluded actor Bryan Cranston (Too bad) The television advertisement for the competition, which began its new season on Thursday. In the accompanying images, balls fly off bats and players eagerly dive for the bases.
Throw the clock
The new rules have been tested in recent years in the lower minor leagues, competitions where talent is groomed for big jobs. The shot clock in particular is a big change. In preparation for the new season, players in the major league also had to deal with it.
Competition chief Rob Manfred noted in his first game with the new technology running that he had much less time to have his usual conversations in the stands between throws. “If you don't look now, you'll miss something right away,” the American said. New York times. “Before you have all the time.” Manfred seemed satisfied.
Archers will now have fifteen seconds to fire their projectiles, and twenty seconds if the opponent is on base. The bells are behind home plate and in sight of the batter. He must be ready at least eight seconds ahead and looking at the shooter. If he is late in his throw, this means a wide ball. If the batter is late, he automatically concedes the hit.
It takes some getting used to, especially for slower shooters. According to data platform FiveThirthyEight, 20 percent of pitchers would have had problems last season if the watch had been in place at the time.
“I didn't know I was that slow,” Curacao's Kenley Jansen said after an exhibition game with his new club, the Boston Red Sox. That has crept in over the years. I now have to get back to the way I used to throw, much faster. Jansen missed last month's Baseball World Cup in preparation for Boston, in part to get used to playing by the clock.
The new reality is also uncomfortable for hitters. Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres was the first player to receive an automatic hit in preparation because he was not ready in time. “It's a big adjustment,” Machado said. “But at least I'm in the history books now.”
In the minor league, the throwing clock has had the desired effect in recent years: games have lasted as long as 26 minutes. The first results in the American League were also encouraging on Thursday. The average match lasted about two hours and forty minutes, compared to three hours and six minutes last season. Currently, the watch is welcomed with open arms by the majority of players and coaches.
To further maintain momentum, pitchers are only allowed to throw a maximum of two outs to the bases to keep runners in line. At the same time, the league encourages stealing bases. This aspect of gaming was almost on the verge of extinction. The data that has flooded the sport in recent years has shown that trying to steal just isn't worth it. Confrontations between a baseman and the next base runner regularly result in injuries.
The major league is trying to prevent the latter this year with bigger rules. The white squares are now just over 45cm per side, while they are about ten centimeters smaller than last year. The distance between the bases has also been reduced. So the sprint is shorter.
The third amendment should also lead to more action on the rules. The so-called defensive “shift” is now partially blocked. Based on the detailed data, players were previously positioned on a particular side of the field because the batter was more likely to hit there. Now they should stay in place, allowing balls to move easily between players. He should bolster his historically low batting average in recent seasons.
Of all the news, the shooting clock is the most striking. From now on, TV viewers will see the clock on the screen ranging from fifteen (or twenty) to zero. New York Mets fans were already mocking the new technology by intentionally miscalculating to confuse opposing pitchers.
Complaints about the new rules are so far surprisingly rare in a sport that does not excel at innovation and progress. The major league appears to be successfully making a transition. Whether this also increases interest or not, the ultimate goal will have to be determined in the new season.
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