Word came out this week that Major League Baseball has decided to do away with throwing four pitches to issue an intentional walk and instead just signal the runner to be put on first base. While this has been a hot topic of conversation in the baseball world, it is just another unnecessary change in the game. The reasoning is to speed the game up which I can agree, is definitely a welcome campaign. But. BUT. Intentional walks are not the reason the game is so slow and drawn out. Not even close. It is much like the NFL trying to change kickoffs. It is part of the game. It always has been. So don’t mess with it. Especially with the fact that pitchers screw this up often. As a former pitcher, I can very much attest to the fact that throwing four accurate throws at half speed to a moving catcher after throwing full speed, with full adrenaline, to live hitters, is HARD. Waaaaaaay harder than it should be. I have personally seen a game lost on a wild pitch during an intentional walk. Anything can happen with those four boring throws.
So, of course MLB gets rid of them. Dumb. Like Russell Martin said…
What is next?
When a player hits a home run, they just run back to dugout to save time?
There are ways to speed the game up. Changing the way the actual game is played and has been played for decades and decades should not be one of them.
Let’s explore one alternative that I am drawn towards. Common sense tells me that umpire’s zones that are smaller than a credit card are the root of all evil in baseball. Hey Mr. Umpire, open it up. This doesn’t change the game in a negative way. Yes, I was a pitcher and continue to be biased, but this isn’t completely one sided in terms of benefitting the pitcher over the hitter. It will cause hitters to be more aggressive early in counts which will lead to lower pitch counts. It will make the game seem to move faster with less “standing around” because balls will be put in play for better or worse. Yes, you will see more 8 pitch innings. But you will also see more forced offense and aggressive hitters are fun to watch. If the zone opened up, chunks of minutes would be chopped off game times. It would be great.