Two Baseball Rules Changes I Would Back Completely

Meant to post this ear­lier this week, but I got lazy.

Tom Ver­ducci of Sports Illus­trated posted 9 rules changes he’d like to see in Major League Base­ball.  They deal with every­thing from instant replay on foul balls to the armor guys wear at the play to the num­ber of time­outs Jorge Posada would call to have a con­fer­ence at the mound.

(It was a lot.  It delayed the game.  It got annoy­ing after a while.)

Here are my two favorites, one of which is named for Doug Melvin who has been call­ing for it for years.

2. The Doug Melvin Rule. For years the Brew­ers gen­eral man­ager has been insti­gat­ing con­ver­sa­tion among gen­eral man­agers about a uni­form ros­ter size in Sep­tem­ber. As it stands now, teams can increase their ros­ter from 25 to as many as 40 play­ers with the addi­tion of Sep­tem­ber call-ups. That leads to teams play­ing with dif­fer­ent ros­ter sizes — say, 33 against 29 — and too many avail­able options for man­agers (five left­ies in the bullpen, four catch­ers, mul­ti­ple pinch-running spe­cial­ists, etc.). It means pen­nant races are decided under rules oth­er­wise not in place all sea­son, and some games are decided because one team has more avail­able play­ers than the other. The Brew­ers are still smart­ing about how St. Louis even qual­i­fied for the 2011 post­sea­son: The Car­di­nals won sev­eral close and long games down the stretch because man­ager Tony La Russa squeezed the most out of expanded ros­ters. Hello, Adron Chambers.

It’s time for gen­eral man­agers to stop talk­ing about it and do some­thing about it. It’s a quick and log­i­cal fix. Teams should play all games with the same num­ber of play­ers. I advo­cate using a 25-man ros­ter all year long. The dif­fer­ence is that in Sep­tem­ber you can call up as many play­ers as you want but you must des­ig­nate a game ros­ter each day of 25 play­ers. A man­ager, for instance, might leave off his other four start­ing pitch­ers, for instance, to include four Sep­tem­ber call-ups. Some GMs have advo­cated a stan­dard but expanded ros­ter for Sep­tem­ber games — say, a daily ros­ter of 28. Twenty-five is plenty, and brings uni­for­mity to the season.

3. The Barry Bonds Rule. You want to wear body armor to gain an advan­tage over the pitcher? Fine, go ahead and wear a huge elbow guard that enables you to hang over the plate and dis­re­spect inside fast­balls that oth­er­wise would move your feet. But you can­not take your base when a pitch hits a piece of your embold­en­ing equip­ment, no more than if a pitch hit your bat. Any pitch that strikes a piece of body armor equip­ment sim­ply is ruled a ball and the at-bat con­tin­ues. No hit batter.

The Bonds rule to me is com­i­cal, but also makes a lot of sense.  If you come to the plate wear­ing a frickin’ gaunt­let for an at bat for the sole pur­pose of crowd­ing it, I say you’re fair game too.

The Melvin rule should hap­pen.  I real­ize the point of the expanded ros­ter is to give expe­ri­ence to prospects who are on the fringe of becom­ing big lea­guers, but there’s no rules lim­it­ing active play­ers, so it turns dugouts and bullpens into a com­pletely dif­fer­ent mon­ster than the rest of the sea­son.  25-man ros­ters all-year long, but allow the call-up a time to move guys in and out of that ros­ter in Sep­tem­ber and solid­ify it by not hav­ing them be unable to dress on game day.

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