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3 Changes That Will Upset Some Fans During the 2020 Season

Baseball must be different this year and there is really no way around it. Divisions will be altered, the schedule will be shortened, and empty ballparks will become the new normal. While these changes are a necessity, MLB could use the current situation to permanently implement other changes and there are going to be more than a handful of fans upset with any alteration to the fabric of the game.
Image courtesy of © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Universal Designated Hitter
Most of MLB’s potential plans for a 2020 season include realigned divisions that include American League and National League teams. Likely, this will result in all teams using a designated hitter this year. MLB has been discussing implementation of a universal DH for some time now and it make sense to start moving in that direction.

Fans of NL teams are likely not in favor of this change, especially since teams didn’t know this change was coming this season. Organizations might have been more open to the change if they had a full off-season to scour the free agent market for a big bat. Some pitchers also enjoy hitting, but the majority of pitchers are atrocious to watch in the batter’s box.

This change was going to happen, and the current season is only going to make it easier for it to become a reality.

Expanded Postseason
MLB is going to want to find was to recoup some of the revenue from games lost in 2020 and expanding the postseason is one way to accomplish that goal. Back in the 2012 season, MLB expanded its playoffs to include two wild card teams per league. This was the first expansion to MLB’s playoffs since 1994 and now MLB is looking to expand the playoffs again. Every major sport has more playoff teams than the 10 qualifiers in MLB. The NBA and NHL each have 16 teams that qualify for postseason play while the NFL currently has 14 qualifiers.

With a proposed shortened season, it makes sense to expand the postseason because there won’t be as many games to separate teams in the divisions. While going to a 16-team format seems out of the question, there could be a possibility to change to the NFL format. This would allow the top four teams to have a first-round bye and increases the incentive for winning the division.

Neutral Site World Series
The NFL has done this with the Super Bowl, and it becomes a spectacle for the hosting city. Minnesota sports fans saw this recently with Minneapolis hosting the Super Bowl back in 2018. There were concerts in the streets downtown, experiences at the Convention Center, and media row filling up the food court at the Mall of America. Obviously, most of these wouldn’t be able to happen this year, but in future years it could change the face of the Fall Classic.

For Twins fans, it would be hard to imagine the 1987 or 1991 World Series not taking place under the Metrodome’s Teflon roof. Minnesota’s home field advantage was real with noise levels reaching the decibel level of some fighter jets. The Twins never lost a World Series game in the Dome and one can imagine the team might not have two titles without their home field advantage.

MLB is constantly looking for ways to improve the game and these changes might be coming, but fans are going to be upset with the route MLB is following.

Hal McCoy, a writer for the Dayton Daily News, thinks MLB should just leave the game alone. He wrote, “The game already is becoming close to unrecognizable to traditionalists with launch angles, spin rates, exit velocity, technological sign-stealing, challenges, efforts to speed up the game that never work and strikeouts, home runs or walks.”

Do you think MLB should leave the game alone? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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52 Comments

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theBOMisthebomb
May 04 2020 08:53 PM
Either go universal DH or no DH at all. I am totally against expanded playoffs and neutral site World Series in principle. However, I will take what I can get this season. Anything to make MLB more like the NFL is a loss for MLB so I would hope the neutral site World Series would be a one-time deal.
    • SQUIRREL, glunn, jbissell and 6 others like this

Dump the DH.

    • PDX Twin and Platoon like this

I consider myself a baseball traditionalist, yet I think the DH should be implemented throughout MLB. There are simply too many terrible hitting pitchers and unnecessary pitching changes in the NL. As for other rule changes, I'll accept any for this season so we can have one.

    • glunn, TopGunn#22, DocBauer and 2 others like this

I know it’s not exciting to watch pitchers hit early in a game, but it is interesting to watch the moves made by managers after the 6th inning. It also makes the manager, the bench players and middle relievers more important. It’s just simply a different game. One which personally I prefer. While the DH rule probably improves the offense, the NFL could do the same by making one cornerback position be manned by an offensive tackle. :). Just because you can mandate rule changes, doesn’t mean they improve the game. 

    • glunn, Dantes929, gagu and 2 others like this
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TwinsFan268
May 05 2020 06:15 AM

I think that I won't care if we have a neutral site World Series and an expanded postseason (the DH thing doesn't really apply to us). All I need is baseball, and if baseball comes with no fans and other challenges such as that, so be it. For me to be happy, all that needs to happen is baseball.

    • glunn, Twodogs, DannySD and 1 other like this

Expanding the postseason number of teams is of no interest to me and a neutral site World Series will flop - the excitement of a world series in our own stadium is too great to sacrifice.In normal times the reason that the NFL plays in a neutral site is because Green Bay in January would be unbearable.

 

Realignment has been on the radar for years and this could be more than a one year adjustment and that would be okay too.So implement the changes in pitching time clock and other experiments too.Make use of this unprecedented period to roll out all the ideas and then sort them out next year for keepers and losers.

 

DH really does not matter - I am okay either way.I am one of those people who would not have DHs in the HOF so I do not care if the rule survives or goes.  

    • SQUIRREL, Dantes929 and MN_ExPat like this

I am ok with DH or no DH. I like the 3 batter minimum for relievers. This is a good time to trot out the automated strike zone.  

    • Doctor Gast likes this

Universal DH, yes.No to the others in the future, however, this year needs to be an exception.

 

I would really like to see MLB expand to 32 teams so there isn't the need to have all the inter league play.Maybe keep it at 6 games so teams can play their cross town rivals.That gets two series a year for the Mets vs. Yankees, Cubs and Sox, Reds and Indians, Dodgers and Angels, etc.Twins would play the Brewers, which is always a good time for lots of fans.Yes, there are some rivalries that really aren't, but for the most part this is fun for the fans.

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diehardtwinsfan
May 05 2020 07:34 AM

I think park rules would be fine on DH... has baseball announced a univeral DH?  

 

That said, I think what will upset fans more than anything is if these changes are permanent :)

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Doctor Gast
May 05 2020 08:18 AM

IMO the game should determined by the fans not by those who want to push their agenda. Some change is good, I`m open for a electronic ump. I`m open for 3 leagues but how are they equitably determine the ones to be in the WS?

 

I am one of those people who would not have DHs in the HOF so I do not care if the rule survives or goes.  

That's interesting. It kind of supports my dislike of the DH rule. I wonder if other people feel that a player who is considered a DH is somehow not really HOF worthy? Seems rather contrary that you would create a "new" position for players to play, and by playing that position said player isn't really a "Baseball Player" and not to be considered for enshrinement, even if he is the best at it. At best it was a contrived rule to keep some slow, aging "greats" in the game longer, thus maintaining/increasing fan interest/revenue. But they just created a weaker variety of baseball in my opinion. Sure ,watching a pitcher hit is sometimes futile and painful, but it's also entertaining too. A good hitting pitcher has an advantage, and the variety of strategic options makes the game more interesting.

 

Years ago I created the "Free Hitter" concept as a way to eliminate the DH but keep the idea somewhat. I tried, but it seems to not have gotten any further than a Baseball Weekly article. Pitchers hit, and a team has one opportunity per game to us a "Free Hitter", a pinch hitter who can bat and the player he hits for can stay in the game. We use it some when playing table top baseball games and its' pretty cool. You can have a bat-first bench player who effectively can bat twice in a game, once as a Free Hitter and once as a pinch hitter, both strategically placed. If he did this all year, thats 324 plate appearances and probably mostly at opportune moments. How many DH's get more?

    • PDX Twin likes this

 

Green Bay in January would be unbearable.

 

And Chicago in January would be upackerable?

    • SQUIRREL, ashbury, diehardtwinsfan and 8 others like this
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WallySzczerbiak
May 05 2020 08:46 AM
Let’s make some other positions defense-only while we’re at it too. Catchers as a whole are pretty bad at hitting, plus imagine the pace of play improvements when they never have to take off their gear!

Or maybe Manfred can get us wholly separate offensive and defensive lineups for each team.

 

That's interesting. It kind of supports my dislike of the DH rule. I wonder if other people feel that a player who is considered a DH is somehow not really HOF worthy? Seems rather contrary that you would create a "new" position for players to play, and by playing that position said player isn't really a "Baseball Player" and not to be considered for enshrinement, even if he is the best at it. At best it was a contrived rule to keep some slow, aging "greats" in the game longer, thus maintaining/increasing fan interest/revenue. But they just created a weaker variety of baseball in my opinion. Sure ,watching a pitcher hit is sometimes futile and painful, but it's also entertaining too. A good hitting pitcher has an advantage, and the variety of strategic options makes the game more interesting.

 

Years ago I created the "Free Hitter" concept as a way to eliminate the DH but keep the idea somewhat. I tried, but it seems to not have gotten any further than a Baseball Weekly article. Pitchers hit, and a team has one opportunity per game to us a "Free Hitter", a pinch hitter who can bat and the player he hits for can stay in the game. We use it some when playing table top baseball games and its' pretty cool. You can have a bat-first bench player who effectively can bat twice in a game, once as a Free Hitter and once as a pinch hitter, both strategically placed. If he did this all year, thats 324 plate appearances and probably mostly at opportune moments. How many DH's get more?

I liked to see a Don Drysdale, Warren Spahn, Jim Kaat hit.They worked at it and were a challenge, but a pitcher like Bob Buhl could have skipped his AB and just taken an automatic out- which means in a superbly pitched game the pinch hitter could end his night.

 

I am not for DH in the HOF because they are equivalent to the SP who can't make it and gets put in the pen (not in favor of relievers either).There were a lot of really good hitters in the past without the DH option - Dick Stuart at Pittsburgh was Dr Strangeglove, but survived 1B to keep his bat in the lineup.called “Stonefingers” and “The Man with the Iron Glove" made his mark as the poorest defensive fielding first baseman in major league history.called “Stonefingers” and “The Man with the Iron Glove" made his mark as the poorest defensive fielding first baseman in major league history.

 

Others just sat on the bench and waited a turn to hit, but could never be considered for the HOF. Dave Kingman was both a bad fielder and a bad hitter with lots of power.He was matched by Adam Dunn.  

 

Casey Stengel, who Throneberry played for with the expansion New York Mets, said to Throneberry on his birthday, "We was going to get you a birthday cake, but we figured you'd drop it."

 

I want a complete player or the HOF should be the hitters memorial.  

    • gagu likes this

Futile hitting pitcher in Twins history: Dean Chance. Batted .066 and struck out over half the time. It's funny because he pitched at the same time as Jim Kaat (.185, 16 career HRs) and Jim Perry (.199), both really good hitters, for pitchers that is. And they could bunt.

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Nine of twelve
May 05 2020 10:21 AM

 

I want a complete player or the HOF should be the hitters memorial.  

OK, no DH's. This also rules out good hitters from the pre-DH era who were poor fielders. And good hitters who were good fielders but poor baserunners. And good hitters who were good fielders and good baserunners but poor pitchers. That leaves only players who were good pitchers, good hitters, good fielders, and good baserunners. In other words, only Babe Ruth.

    • SQUIRREL and USAFChief like this
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SkyBlueWaters
May 05 2020 11:03 AM

Years ago Dusty Baker was asked if he favored the DH. He said he liked it the way it is, pitchers hitting in 1 league, but the DH in the other.

Me, too.

 

I wish the Twins had had a shot at Bumgarner this off-season. But he likes hitting, which I believe factored into his staying in the NL. 

 

Football is a cookie cutter sport. They have rules for how high you wear your socks. Everything made uniform. In baseball, the outfield walls vary. There's more variety. The individual is emphasized. A guy stand alone in the batters box.

 

Fine for the universal DH in this coronavirus year, but I wish they'd go back to how it was from '73 to 2019 next year.

 

If we're going to change anything, bring on the automated strike zone.

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SkyBlueWaters
May 05 2020 11:39 AM

Remember how teams that wanted to slow Maury Wills down would drench the basepath at first base?

 

How teams with older, veteran infielders might let the infield grass grow a bit longer to slow down ground balls, or would leave the dirt hard at home plate to improve the bounce if they had hitters who can bunt?

 

Those are great *baseball* stories. Baseball doesn't need to be uniform. Don't even get me started on Bill Veeck putting a minor league outfield wall on wheels and moving it in when his team came up to hit ...

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Ex-Iowegian
May 05 2020 11:52 AM

I can see why they would want to make these changes for a drastically shortened season.This year should be the outlier, and no new rule changes kept for later years.

Just get on the field and play. 

You could use a whiffle ball for all I care. (kidding.... sorta...)

I had no idea that I would miss baseball this much.

    • DannySD likes this

The DH is not a real position.While I admit it is painful to watch some pitchers hit, it is part of the game and strategy.It also speeds up the game.More chance for the out!

Expanded playoffs.This is a tough one.Too expanded and the regular season means nothing.The NBA is ridiculous with the amount of teams.Unless you are the Timberwolves it is hard to understand how you CAN'T make the playoffs.They need to figure out how to make the season NOT go into November though.Watching baseball with a parka on is just not right.Especially when it is the players wearing them!

Neutral site World Series. NO WAY!This is part of the magic of baseball.Parks are vastly different.You build your team for your park.As with football it is an unfair advantage when a random team just "happens" to play close to home.The Rose Bowl in college football was a good example.Pac-12 was basically the home team sine the Big10 had to travel so far.Unfair advantage.

    • Platoon and gagu like this

Definitely yes to all of it in 2020, whatever they can do to get on the field, even if there are no fans. And one day we can all look back on it and... maybe laugh? 

 

And I vote to keep the Universal DH going forward. It is going to happen someday soon anyway. 

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Cap'n Piranha
May 05 2020 01:36 PM

I've never understood people who oppose the DH because they think it's ridiculous that a pitcher not be required to hit, but don't think it's ridiculous that hitters aren't required to pitch.

 

In fact, if the concept behind baseball is that there are three separate aspects to the game (hitting, pitching, and fielding), shouldn't each spot in the lineup be required to do all 3?

    • DocBauer and Nine of twelve like this

Let’s make some other positions defense-only while we’re at it too. Catchers as a whole are pretty bad at hitting, plus imagine the pace of play improvements when they never have to take off their gear!

The DH rule for pitchers was proposed at least as far back as the 1930s. It wasn't too far into the lively ball era before observers noticed that there literally was no floor for how badly a pitcher could swing a bat, as long as he could pitch effectively. By contrast, nobody who bats .100 keeps a job as catcher very long.

 

By now of course a lot of factors have intervened which make it tough to break down. But, I took a look at catchers and pitchers (at least 85% of their games at those respective positions) with at least 50 plate appearances in 2019, and ranked them by OPS. There were quite a few stinkers among the 75 catchers who made this threshold of use - 6 guys had OPS below .500 (MLB average was .758), and Anthony Benboom (Rays/Angels) brought up the rear with an OPS of .349 built on a mighty BA of .150 across 54 plate appearances.

 

Think that's bad? Of the 41 pitchers who came to the plate 50+ times, 20 of them had worse OPS than even Benboom. At the top end, Zack Greinke and Steven Brault were good hitters, but at #3 was German Marquez with an OPS of .583.

 

Management has to weigh the value of the catcher's mitt versus the bat, and only a relative handful of glove-only guys get much playing time. By contrast, there's no strategic weighing of bat versus pitching arm going on by NL team management, at all. (And catcher is indeed the only position where such ineptitude is even countenanced - second base had a low OPS of .480, shortstop .487, and I didn't bother to check the other positions further along the spectrum.*)

 

I think it's purely a strawman to mock the DH by suggesting every position be subbed for. The DH addresses a specific imbalance in the game, one that was recognized for decades - not just a lunkheaded desire for "moar offense!!1!".

 

* "But but but... Zack Cozart!" Yeah. Zack Cozart. Him and three others. :)

 

 

    • USAFChief, Cap'n Piranha, DocBauer and 2 others like this

Great time to make some changes on a "temporary basis", if successful keep permanent. I like the DH rule, or go without DH, but make it consistent league wide. Realignment, reduction of games, extra inning changes, roster expansion, electronic ump, replay (I want reduced) all on the table.

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lukeduke1980
May 05 2020 03:41 PM

 

Dump the DH.

I agree, I'm not a huge fan of DH, but I have loved watching Chili Davis, Thome, Cruz, Molitor.

 

I would dump DH for all interleague competition and WS because I think it's a competitive advantage - DH for those NL teams is their 9th best hitter.

    • Nine of twelve likes this

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