The MLB has made their proposed changes to the players union for the 2017 season. Recently, we have seen the addition of the pitch clock and a rule forbidding players from leaving the batters’ box. This year, the propositions are:
1) Changing the dynamic of the intentional walk.
2) Changing the dimensions of the strike zone.
The intentional walk is strictly for time purposes, as the rule will allow for the pitcher to signal for an intentional walk instead of throwing all four pitches. The MLB has been hellbent on reducing the amount of time of the average game, and they will cut corners any little way they can. I mean, how often do you see an intentional walk? Once, maybe twice, per game? That saves roughly one maybe two minutes per game. I actually don’t mind the move, because the idea of throwing all four pitches has seemed a bit outdated, but I will miss having the opportunity for a pitcher to mess up an intentional walk and throw a hit-able pitch.
Since 1996, the lower part of the strike zone had been described as “the hollow point below the knee”. With this proposed rule change, the strike zone would come up roughly two inches to the top of the knee. Obviously, the shrinking of the strike zone effects both the batter and the pitcher. The pitcher now is squeezed just a bit more, and the batter has a clearer idea about what he is not to swing at. It could also produce more offense, either from walks or pitchers throwing to contact more, and offense is what bring in new viewers. I see this resulting in a lot more walks if it is passed, at least for the first few seasons as players adjust to the changes.
I see it more likely that the intentional walk gets passed than the strike zone, but I don’t see either as bad for the game.