Rule changes designed to shorten Major League Baseball games and make them more appealing to fans are part of the evolution of the game, says UWindsor kinesiology professor Craig Greenham.
In an article published in The Conversation, Dr. Greenham writes that the new rules could revitalize the league.
“Interest in baseball has been declining over the years and as a major sports league, the MLB is responsible for keeping the game exciting for viewers,” Greenham says. “MLB’s willingness to adapt could be what the league needs to maintain its relevance.”
With its introduction of a pitch clock, MLB will set limits on the time between pitches. And with the exception of one timeout per at-bat, batters will no longer be able to step away from the plate. Both changes are designed to shorten games.
To make the game more exciting by encouraging stolen bases, the league now limits how often pitchers can check on runners and it has made the bases bigger. And to put more balls in play, it has banned the infield shift, which sends defending players to the side of the diamond a batter usually hits.
“There’s an almost mythical belief that baseball doesn’t change over time,” said Greenham, who teaches in the Department of Kinesiology’s Sport Management and Leadership program. He compares today’s game to its 19th-century origins, pointing out the differences. And he looks to the future of the game, which could include robot umpires as early as next season.
“Only time will tell if the new changes will succeed in bringing baseball back to the masses.”
The Conversation is an online publication featuring articles from academics and researchers around the world. Read Greenham’s article here.