While many fans love the game of baseball, hence the moniker "America's national pastime," over the past few years, the number of fans going to games has decreased rapidly. With new stadiums, like Marlins Park, sitting empty for most of their home games, is there anything baseball can do to save itself? Commissioner Rob Manfred wants to speed up the pace of the game to entice a younger audience, and someone who has been very vocal about these issues is former Oakland Athletic's pitcher and co-host of the Starting 9 podcast, Dallas Braden (yes, the same one who, on May 9th, 2010, threw a perfect game). When the opportunity presented itself to interview Mr. Braden about his thoughts on some of the new rules changes, like always, he didn't hold anything back.
1. 3-batter minimum will ruin years of scouting in the MLB
A rule that has been thrown around that could be a part of the game as soon as 2020 is the 3-batter minimum, which states that any pitcher, whether he starts or comes in as a reliever, barring injury, must pitch to at least 3 batters in a game. The hope of this is that it will eliminate pitchers who are specialized to pitch to one batter and then head to the showers. When asked, Dallas Braden said, "We're taking strategy away from the game, that's how the rosters are built, that's why a team recruits a guy who can blow 98, and shut down any lefty in the game."
He also felt very strongly about the fact that these pitchers have been built up since around 12 or 13-years-old to throw fast and strike out batters. "My point is changing it right now will impact years of scouting and organization grooming of minor league players in an organization." While, in theory, this rule change would speed up the game by eliminating about two to three mound visits a game, it could also change the way that game is played, from little leagues all the way to the major leagues.
2. With the universal designated hitter (DH), baseball won't have to play by two separate rules
In the National League (NL), the pitcher has to hit unless he is taken out of the game, at which point the team can use a pinch hitter. In the American League (AL), they use a designated hitter (DH), who would hit for the pitcher but doesn't have to play in the field. Many fans, players, and analyzers across baseball would love the rule change and Dallas Braden is alongside them. "As we sit here today (April 9th, 2019), Jon Lester just went on the DL run, sliding into second base. That's a problem we don't want to see in today's game."
This also doesn't just reduce unnecessary injuries, but this could also add jobs for players who aren't able to make the 25 man roster. "This creates more offense and takes the bat out of [the pitcher's] hand and someone who is getting paid." Not just for the safety of pitchers, but the way the game is played, as Braden said, "we are the only professional sport under two separate rules, as well as a championship series under two separate rules." Whether you are a traditionalist or someone who likes to see change, this rule change can keep the safety of pitchers, as well as create jobs for players who otherwise wouldn't have them.
3. Extra inning rules used in Spring Training could be another way to destroy the great game of baseball
If you traveled to Arizona or Florida for spring training, watched some games, and saw one go into extras, you may have noticed something different. Baseball tried a rule change, which would put a runner on second and have one out to speed up the game and not have games go into the 300th inning. Dallas Braden wasn't and isn't a fan of this possible run change. "Again you are fiddling with strategy. MLB loves their Hall of Fame and now you put an asterisk along with those numbers." As a former pitcher, Braden said that pitchers don't mind taking the ball up one with no one on base unless baseball has to manipulate their success rate. This rule has been used in little league, along with some high school games. The changes it has on the way the game is played doesn't have a place in professional baseball.
4. When given one rule change, Dallas Braden is all for speeding up the game
When presented with the opportunity to make or change one rule in major league baseball, Dallas Braden was all for speeding up the game. "Regardless of what the name on the back of the jersey is, unless you make contact with the ball, get in the box, don't adjust your gloves. I understand wanting to adjust your gloves, but just back in the box." While baseball has a rule, where if a player doesn't get in the box when it comes to a superstar, like Aaron Judge, who is notoriously known for always adjusting his batting gloves, many umpires will be gunshy about actually making the call.