Three areas seem ripe for offseason rules changes. Certainly expanded instant replay will be in effect. When this was proposed during the middle of last season, a Baseball Tonight panel discussed this. Manny Acta, in one of the most moronic things I've ever heard, kept saying "How will a manager know when to challenge", referring to the proposal that a manager have only one challenge during the first six innings.
Uh, Manny, isn't that a manger's job, to make judgment calls? When a manager makes out his lineup card, what is that but a series of judgment calls on who to start and what order to bat his starters in. When a manager takes out a starting pitcher, what is that but a judgment call? When a manager sends up a pinch-hitter, or puts on the hit-and-run, what are those but judgment calls? Making judgment calls is what a manager gets paid for.
Manny's fellow panelists tried to dissuade him from his idiocy, but he stuck to his guns and kept insisting it would be a bad rule. One can only hope this idiot will not be back on ESPN next year, and that no ballclub will be foolish enough to hire him for another managing stint.
The obstruction rule will be looked at, as promised after the odd play during this past postseason. What we kept hearing after that odd play was that there is no intent to obstruct the runner required on the part of the fielder, and that "a runner creates his own baseline". Here is where the puzzling part comes into play for me. In the play in question, the third baseman was lying on the ground between 3rd and 2nd, and the runner was going from 3rd to home on the overthrow. The runner tripped over the fielder only because the runner got up (after his slide into 3rd) on the 2nd-base side of 3rd. The fielder was not in any way in the baseline between 3rd and home. I don't know what new wording can be added, but I think the umps have to be given some latitude to use their judgment in oddball situations like this.
The collisions at home are the third thing to be considered. To me, these collisions have no part in the game of baseball. They belong in football, where a fullback can try to run over a linebacker if he wishes, but a runner should not be allowed to make like a fullback and try to run over a catcher. By the same token, a catcher should not be allowed to block the plate unless he has the ball. This has always been the written rule, but an unwritten rule among the umps has allowed this for many years. Hopefully a sensible rules change can be enacted and enforced.
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