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The Big Kahuna's Essay Column  

September 3, 2017

          If It Ain't Broke, Don't Break It: When Rob Manfred replaced Bud Selig as commissioner of Major League Baseball, this column was understandably celebratory. Anyone, the reasoning went, had to be better than Selig.
          While Manfred initially approached the job with a thoughtfulness and practicality that was not always in evidence during Selig's reign of error, some of Manfred's recent initiatives have muted my enthusiasm for his tenure.
          Things like the recent "player's weekend", and non-solutions like the no-pitch intentional walk, and the consideration of robot umpires indicate Manfred's willingness to cheapen the ideals of the game even further.
          If there is one thing this column has consistently railed against it is this: baseball needs fewer gimmicks, not more. 
          The reliance on gimmickry suggests that the game, by itself, in not worth following. This, should be, considered unthinkable by the baseball establishment. 
          Instead, baseball executives seem to be signaling that they do not like baseball, they do not expect you to find it interesting, so, therefore, they have to give you something else to keep your attention.
          This backward, wrong-headed philosophy has caused baseball to be, ironically, a slower paced, slightly less exciting game.
          The owners, with the tacit approval of the player's union, are following a strategy to make their sport more appealing to fans of other sports. This is being done at the expense of die-hard baseball fans. 
          They get away with it, because they can count on die-hard fans to love baseball, no matter what they choose to do to it.
          It's sad, but true. Baseball will continue to be reshaped, not by people who cherish and respect baseball, but rather, to appease the opinions of people that find baseball to be too slow and boring.           
          And if recent world history has taught us anything, it has to be that appeasement can only lead to disaster.


Relevant Question Of The Month: What do think of baseball's efforts to improve the "Pace of Play"?-L. B. Abilene, TX
          The one thing that everyone needs to understand is that if Major League Baseball wanted the games to take less time, then they would.
          It is becoming increasingly clear that Major League Baseball has no real interest in reducing game times, and is merely paying lip service to the idea.
          As a matter of fact, despite all apparent efforts to the contrary, the average time it takes to play a game has, on average, increased by approximately five minutes.
          One has to ask, if baseball is directing so much energy into make games take less time, why are they taking more time? The answer, it seems to me, is that baseball wants its games to take as long as they can get away with.
          Think of it: the longer fans are in the ballpark, the more opportunity exists to sell those fans something. Or more of something.
          If games are played in just over two hours, like Major League Baseball contends is their ideal, fans have one fewer hour to buy food, beverages, and souvenirs. Why would revenue conscious owners want that?
          If Major League Baseball had a real interest in limiting the average time it takes to play a game, they would put a lot of energy into keeping batters in the batter's box between pitches, reducing the time spent in between innings, and putting a limit of the number of times the catcher can visit the pitcher on the mound.
          Instead, baseball talks about red herrings like a pitch clock and institutes the no-pitch intentional walk (which will save, an average of, around one second per game per season)
          This, it seems to me, is a lot like saying you want to prevent your house from fire while dousing it in gasoline.


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