It’s finally Friday! If we could get the rain to stop in Kansas City, maybe we could do something outside. The forecast looks good for the weekend.
The Royals have a three-game series at home starting tonight with the Detroit Tigers. A sweep puts them back over .500. These teams like sweeps this year. The Royals swept a four-game series in Detroit in late April. The Tigers paid them back by sweeping a three-game series, once again in Detroit, just last week. This weekend is the first time they will play in Kansas City this year. If things go like the first two series, the game Friday night will be huge.
7:10pm – MLS – Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals (BSKC)
STOLEN BASES INCREASING?
Yesterday in the Royals game review, I discussed scoring in 2021 compared to scoring in 1981. I made the case, relatively convincingly, if you ask me, that the game in 1981 was more entertaining. A big part of the game in 1981 was the stolen base. It has nearly disappeared in 2021.
Major League Baseball is starting to use the minor leagues to experiment with rule changes. And it just so happens that MLB is experimenting with increasing stolen bases this year in Single-A.
MLB is increasing stolen bases in High-A leagues by requiring pitchers to step off the rubber before throwing to a base. That eliminates the huge advantage left-handed pitchers have when holding a runner on first base.
In Low-A leagues, MLB is allowing pitchers to throw to a base just three times. And if they throw over a third time, they better pick the runner off. Otherwise, a balk is called, and the runner advances a base.
One of today’s reads is a story written by Jayson Stark about this very topic. It’s something that people throughout baseball are talking about.
Whit Merrifield is against rules that would make stealing bases easier. He’s not anywhere near the fastest runner in baseball, but he is often at or near the top of the league in stolen bases. He argues that it removes the skill from stealing bases.
But fans aren’t necessarily interested in who has the skill to steal bases. They like the action on the base paths. Now, if the changes currently being tested would cause a large jump in stolen bases to where it’s like youth baseball, it would be too much. The stolen base needs to be more attractive to get more attempts, but not so easy that when you get on first, you can be at third a couple of pitches later. That’s what happens in youth baseball.
But the key to increasing action is not just to increase stolen bases. The excitement is with hitting doubles and triples instead of home runs. More hit-and-runs would also add to the excitement. Again, returning to the game as it was in 1981 would be a huge improvement.
So the answer is not just increasing stolen bases. The key is greatly reducing home runs and being willing to live with the time it takes for the game to adjust. Eventually, players will stop swinging for the fences and will try to hit line drives in the gaps, or someone who can do that will take their place. And that’s ok.
It’s ok for the players who are valued today to be devalued tomorrow as a result of changes that make the game more interesting to the fans. Home run hitters weren’t always valued the way they are today. Today, the slap hitter who takes the extra base is not valued like he used to be. There’s nothing wrong with removing the home run hitters from the game. Those who can still hit home runs will be celebrated even more.
It will be interesting to see what MLB does next season after getting back a year of information from the experiments in the minor leagues. I think we are a few years away from any changes at the major league level, but it’s comforting to know that MLB is trying to address the problems with the game.
RHP Jesse Hahn was returned from his rehab assignment. Hahn will undergo more tests and/or evaluations. He left his last rehab appearance on Wednesday after just one batter.
NOTES: English Premier League club Liverpool is creating a Supporters Board that will give fans representation at the board level. This is in response to the outrage from fans when the club planned on joining the now dead Super League.
How much base stealing is too much? With experimental rules, Class A games are ‘like watching a track meet’ (Jayson Stark)
Look out, NBA: Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. living up to the hype (Dave Matter)
I’ll be back on Monday with the next email. I will have game reviews for the weekend games. I’m also going to try to record some videos this weekend and get those on the website soon. Have a great weekend!
Thanks for reading…