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.