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Baseball is back, but will look different

By CHRIS SIERS ~ sports@t-g.com
Posted 3/11/22

On December 2, the MLBPA and MLB announced the league would enter a phase of lockout while the two parties negotiated on the new collective bargaining agreement. After negotiations deteriorated in …

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Baseball is back, but will look different


On December 2, the MLBPA and MLB announced the league would enter a phase of lockout while the two parties negotiated on the new collective bargaining agreement.
After negotiations deteriorated in the last few weeks, league commissioner Rob Manfred games would be canceled while the two parties continued to negotiate.
On Thursday afternoon, it was made official as all 30 owners agreed to ratify the new CBA, ending the lockout.
What all is included in the new CBA?
While some of the changes include changes to the luxury tax, a league-funded pool to provide pre-arbitration players with bonuses based on performances and pre-arbitration players will get a substantial increase in their base levels of pay.
As for the stuff changing on the field, some of the new rules are dramatic to say the least.
Beginning in 2022, there will be a universal designated hitter for both National League and American League teams, doubleheaders will now be nine-inning games, instead of seven-inning games, and extra innings games will no longer begin with a runner on second base.
The union and the MLB agreed to ban defensive shifts, which is where players will reposition on the field based on a hitting chart.
For example, if a batter consistently pulls to one side of the field or the other, defenses were allowed to shift to compensate for that. For batters that pulled to right field, defenses would shift the third baseman to short stop, short stop to second base, second base to playing a quasi short stop between first and second base, etc.
For better or worse, it’s a defensive strategy that forced batters to beat a defense.
That’s gone now.
The league continues to change and it’s not necessarily for the batter.
Imagine this—if Aaron Rodgers could’t beat a Cover 2 defensive look and the NFL decided to ban that specific defense to aid offenses.
Throw in the universal designated hitter, now National League teams don’t have to manage pitching as closely, there’s no double-switches or any strategy to be had.
It’s a big change and it’s all happening under Rob Manfred.
Baseball is a traditional sport. Purists hate changes to the game and these are drastic changes coming to the game.
The league itself is tanking in terms of popularity and none of the rule changes will attract new viewers.
In fact, the changes are likely to alienate longtime fans.
Among the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS, the MLB is in free fall.
Instead of changing the way the game is played, the league should first address the blackout restrictions that pad the pockets of the owners via media deals and make the game as accessible as possible for fans.
If you’re lucky enough to live close to a stadium, tickets are fairly affordable.
But if you’re a fan out of market, get ready to fork over big money for the league’s TV broadcast deal that allows you to watch games anywhere, just as long as you’re not in market.
If you’re IN market, the only way to get TV access is to pay near-extortion rates for satellite or cable.
Manfred and the league should have addressed the elephant in the room of a viewership that’s in absolute free fall, rather than drastically alter how the game is played.
What’s done is done, though and baseball free agency is open for business.
Watch the mad swap of deals being made and players signing with new clubs after being shut down for four months.
Baseball is still on the way in just four short weeks, but it’s going to look a lot different than we’re used to.
And as long as the league refuses to address a steeply declining audience, we’ll see more and more changes made to the game until it’s no longer what baseball was meant to be.
Chris Siers is sports editor of the Times-Gazette. Email him at sports@t-g.com.