Manfred, let me just cut to it, is a poser. He’s a coddler. He’s a whiner. He’s a lawyer. And if you haven’t gotten a sense of my true feelings toward the man who is systematically ruining baseball with all this executive orders, I further state that he has no business running Major League Baseball. His executive order regarding the Intentional Walk (IBB) is another example of his gross disrespect for the sanctity of the game.
This intentional walk rule is just the latest in a line of changes making the game less interactive, less dynamic, and more sanitized and robotic. It’s also a continuation of pandering to the whining fans who don’t even go to games often, or are buried in their phones  as I point out in a piece showing 1500 on phone. The extended netting is another problem.
Manfred argues, poorly and clearly not having done ANY research, the rule will help shorten the game.
No it won’t. In 2015, there was a LEAGUE—as in ALL of MLB—average of roughly .2 intentional walks (IBB) per game; this was a .01 DECREASE from the 2013 average. That translates into one IBB every FIVE games. IBBs take all of 2 minutes to complete, and they count toward pitch count.
The Players Union balked at this with good reason. It’s is nothing more than a bandage covering a wound that doesn’t exist. It’s clear Manfred did no research on this topic. Had he, he’d know it’s pointless…and it has the potential of lengthening games, altering strategy too.
THE PROBLEM WITH THE RULE: IT LENGTHENS THE GAME
There is one very real, very possible issue with this that any fan of the game can see:
The change in the way the game is played. With this new rule, there’s nothing stopping teams from loading the bases to get to the worst hitter on the team. They can now simply by-pass the number 2-4 batters, and pitch to the 5th batter. In the case of my Detroit Tigers, this means always walking Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, and whomever happens to be in the number two slot that game.
Consider it this way:
Bases are empty. One out. Up comes Ian Kinsler, followed by Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera. The next batter is J.D. Martinez and then Justin Upton with a .270 BA. Now, instead of pitching to Kinsler and Martinez, the team will pitch to Kinsler (about a .280 BA), award IBBs to Martinez, Cabrera and Martinez (all hovering around .300) to get to Upton. It makes sense to do it this way too. With Kinsler more likely to be an out, and Upton also being more likely to be an out, the three best hitters will be skipped.
This is a good thing in that it will force lineups to not be top heavy now, but with some teams, like the Chicago Cubs, Yankees and Indians, which have had generally solid all-around lineups lately, we’re looking at the real possibility of back-to-back-to-back IBBs. This essentially slows pace to the point of a crawl.
And with each of these IBBs running about 30 seconds—from the signal to the jog down to the new batter getting up to the plate—it actually makes it a longer game. Instead of .2 IBBs per game, we now have two or more, which more than makes up for the time (30 seconds) skimmed off the game. It has the probable effect of ADDING time to the game. Major League Baseball has a serious problem as a result of this poorly concieved rule.
The math for this is simple. A current IBB takes about 2 minutes (this includes the four pitches, and the batter’s jog to first base, and assumes he tosses his bat and gloves back toward the dugout before the jog). But I’m willing to go to 1:30 though. Given there’s an average of .2 IBBs per game, it means a whole 18 seconds of game time is used up to fulfill the .2 IBBs per game.
This 18 seconds will be eaten up by a probable one IBB per game now, is not more. Thus, Manfred has already lengthened the game by about two seconds. Add in a couple more IBBs and now we have 40 or more seconds added to the game.
The decision is one that was poorly conceived and clearly not researched. It adds time to the game, certainly doesn’t save any significant time, and it fundamentally changes the way the game is played. It’s a bad rule in every way we look at it.
This is a major issue. While I can work with extended netting not fundamentally changing the way the game is played, rather just being a huge annoyance, and I see some merit in the no-slide rule as a means to less the impact of collisions, these offer protection to players and fans, the new IBB rule does nothing to improve the game. It doesn’t even shorten games enough to be considered useful. It’s nothing more than an arbitrary, poorly thought-out rule Manfred is using to exert some form of pressure to seem like he’s doing something good for the game.
BAN the MAN(FRED)
It’s regrettable that Manfred’s poor self-esteem has caused him to give ultimatums and write, essentially, executive orders, orders that don’t do a thing for baseball. Ones that are disingenuous and don’t do anything for the game. The slide rule, extended netting, and now this are all pointless and profoundly alter the game, yet do NOTHING to actually improve the game.
His insistence on all those rule changes for 2015 are perfect examples of how poorly thought-out Manfred’s ideas are. While getting used to the rules, the game time dropped some, though still higher than five years prior. In 2016, those rules did absolutely nothing. Pace-of-game jumped an astounding 30 seconds.
It may be time we organized a walk on MLB Headquarters or petition the teams and Players Union to boot him to the curb. He’s actually making things worse…because he’s an attorney first, and a baseball fan third.