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Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:17 AM
Baseball games are being played again! I know it's only spring training, but I'm a box score junkie and once again I can get my daily fix...
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Game Thread: Twins vs. Detroit 8/17 @ 7:10 PM CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:43 AM
ANNND Welcome! To Minnesota Twins Whine Line: Christmas in August Edition! I am your host and gracious elf, Vanimal. Along with my trusty...
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Article: Getting the Twins Bullpen Right for 2019

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:00 PM
It wasn't so long ago that the Twins were flush with quality righties out of the bullpen. Even though the rest of his team was lagging ar...
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Article: MIN 5, DET 4: Take a Bow, Joe

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:57 PM
If there’s one good reason to keep tuning into the Twins the rest of this season, it’s because we could very will be watching the end of...
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Twins Daily Roundtable: Baseball in 2028

Twins Daily Roundtable is a weekly series. As part of this series, a question will be posed to the site’s writers and they will respond in 200 words or less (Some writers don’t like to stick to this limit). This will give readers an opportunity to see multiple points of view and then add their own point of view in the comments section.

The winds of change are in the air and I am not just talking about the pending trade deadline. For better or worse, baseball is changing and the game could look quite different over the next decade. Pitch clocks, replay, shifts, home runs, and strikeouts have become common place across America’s Pastime.

This week’s roundtable discussion question is: “How do you think baseball will change in the next decade?”
Image courtesy of Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Seth Stohs
I have no idea, but it needs to. When diehards like myself have a hard time getting through nine innings anymore, something might be wrong.

So many pitching changes. Shifting not only on every batter, but dependent on count. So many swings and misses. I know it is no longer cool to say it, but I miss the old game. The crisp pitching, batters not being so passive. There's a reason I tweet "Have I mentioned how much I love watching Eddie Rosario play baseball?

That said, I don't think they can or should eliminate shifts. I definitely don't think Jim Kaat's seven-inning game idea is a good idea. Analytics and over-thinking everything are now part of the game and that isn't going away. So I think we're just going to have to grin and bear it.

Strikeout. Walks. Home Runs. More bullpen usage. It's all here to stay, and there are some that like that, and it can be fun at times... But it will be hard to grow this game in the States with this pace of play situation as it is and getting worse.

My hope is that this great game will continue to evolve, as it has for 140-150 years to make itself better. No one wants to get rid of tradition, but something needs to happen.

Tom Froemming
In terms of the on-field product, a lot of what may happen will depend upon what happens to the actual baseball itself, in my opinion.

If MLB tries to "deaden" the ball, teams will start to value hitters who put the ball in play more often. Otherwise, things will keep escalating in the direction they're going and soon defense will become a relative afterthought due to the lack of balls put in play.

The MLB's current labor agreement with the umpires ends after next season. I think we'll see some of the framework for an automated strike zone in their next agreement. While "robo umps" would be a welcome sight, they'd also tie into the devaluation of defense. Catcher framing goes extinct if that ever happens.

What else? Expansion, probably. Universal DH, probably. Players continue to fight pace of play changes, resulting in games becoming even longer.

The 2028 NL Manager of the Year award goes to a 23-year-old rookie skipper who is a recent computer science grad from MIT. Bartolo Colon leads the league in innings that season.

Cody Christie
The year is 2028…
Separated by two votes in the final tally, Royce Lewis narrowly takes home the American League MVP Award after beating out Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Mike Trout could have won his record setting eighth MVP but he finished a distant third. The Twins have been in three straight ALCS but the 2028 season saw the club finally break-through and win the club’s fourth AL Pennant. The World Series came back to Minnesota.

While this utopian idea of the year 2028 sounds great to Twins fans, things need to change with the game. Here are some of the things I foresee happening over the next decade.
  • 20 second pitch clock
  • Universal designated hitter
  • Relievers must face multiple batters
  • Shifts will continued to be allowed
  • Replay will be quicker and used more frequently
Expansion will also add two teams to Montreal, Canada and Portland, Oregon. As I wrote about last October, expansion would mean a shift in the divisions and the removal of two leagues. I also think the number of games will be dropped to around 156. This would also allow for the playoffs to expand to 12 teams with four division winners (first round byes) and four wild card games.

SD Buhr
I'll let the others dwell on MLB, though I do believe we will have 32 teams and a 154 game schedule. But since the question just said "baseball," I'm going to mention the changes I see coming for minor league ball.

The current agreement between MLB and MiLB expires in 2020 and therefore no affiliation agreements have been extended beyond that year. I believe there will be some significant changes, most notably a reduction in the number of affiliations, perhaps even elimination of 1-2 entire classes of minor league ball.

Baseball currently has 3 levels of short-season ball, though few teams field teams at all 3 levels. Add 4 full-season levels and that makes 7 minor league levels in the US (plus those in Latin America). I'll predict that one level of short-season will be eliminated and it's POSSIBLE that there will no longer be two levels of Class A ball.

MLB was threatening minor league teams with contraction to get them to shore up Congressional support during the debate over minor league pay. But now that they won that battle, there's no reason to think MLB wouldn't contract anyway. Bottom line is that I believe there will be fewer minor league teams and that means roster spots for fewer minor league players.

I suspect that means a worldwide draft and/or fewer rounds in the US draft.

Ted Schwerzler
Given the consistent cries for the pace of play to be addressed, baseball is going to need to change one way or another. I don’t believe the issues are dire, but Rob Manfred seems set on changing the game. I do believe we’ll see electronic strike zones sooner rather than later, and that’s a good thing.

Specialization has become a large portion of the game and I don’t foresee that going away. I’m not sure what other on-field changes are in store, but a decade from now it will be fun to see Mike Trout having overtaken the last few of Babe Ruth’s numbers.

Steve Lein

What will happen and what I’d like to see happen are probably two different things.

On the latter side, I think there needs to be a shift in the type of game they try to promote, with the recent All-Star Game being a great example of the problem I see. A new record was set for both the number of home runs (10), and strikeouts (25) by both teams (as would have the 23 K’s in nine-innings). We’re seeing a historically low amount of balls-in-play as home runs and strikeouts have been on the rise. To keep future fans into the game, this trend needs to go in the other direction in my opinion. Nobody likes seeing as much “nothing” happening in a game as there is now. Dingers are sweet, but also alter the pacing of a game negatively.

As for the former, I think the juiced ball will get fixed. I also think rules relating to shifting are going to be implemented. I do love the strategy of it on defense, while also thinking hitters should just take the damn base when it’s given to them. But for the prior reasons mentioned above, this just isn’t the game promoted or taught anymore. While this won't increase balls-in-play, it would allow more action to occur during a game instead of groundouts into the outfield.

If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links:
Floundered
Second Half Star
Sell, Sell, Sell?
Fixing the Offense
Romero’s Rotation Spot


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21 Comments

I lean towards Seth's stance in this debate. The shifts are ridiculous and baseball is becoming more like slow pitch softball with 4 OFs out there. Implement a rule that infielders need to touch the dirt at all times.

Robot umpires will be a thing...

The pitch clock should be implemented ASAP. There is no reason why players can play with the pitch clock all throughout the minors, then toss it all out the window when they are called up to the majors.

If the game keeps continuing the way it is with less balls in play, and 3 true outcomes, I doubt I'll be a die-hard fan 10 years from now.
    • mikelink45 likes this

Tuesday's game was an excellent example why mlb needs robo ump calling pitches. Not only did the ump call strikes on several fastballs that were 3-4 inches outside, he also cheated Toronto's pitcher of a called third strike on Dozier that would have saved his team from a disastrous rally by our guys. I don't care if it hurts umpires' feelings or eliminates pitch framing, which few fans care about or even notice. By 2028 we will definitely have robo ump. Heck, it will probably happen in the next couple years. Even with slightly improved calls, these humans screw up games too often. Kill 'em all! Oh sorry, that's my AI talking...

 

Universal DH? I don't see why. With better training techniques including haptic feedback suits and 3D virtual reality environments, all ballplayers will throw and hit like their favorites heroes. They'll also all dance like Michael Jackson. This may increase the demand for a dead baseball and rules against flash mobs moonwalking during games. 

 

Also by 2028 I expect to see the minor leagues getting almost as much attention and camera coverage as the majors. The cheap and ready availability of sophisticated, hi-rez cameras and recording software should make it easy to narrate and record games at every level from beginners on up. If anything, the overexposure of everything could make us sick of all video media. Watch for a counterrevolution. The code phrase is, "God, I'm sick of this crap."

 

Jim Kaat's suggestion of a 7-inning game will definitely happen. Fans will continue to display shorter and shorter attention spans, so we can expect to see more and more of them leaving ballparks after the 7th inning. Empty parks for the 8th and 9th will be so common, the league will finally give up and shorten games. Also, it'll be too hot in many parks for games longer than 7 innings. 120F or hotter on the field will be common. Games will be postponed or canceled due to excessive heat. Imagine Atlanta in mid-July, 2028. Or Miami. Ugh. On the other hand, the league may expand in Canada, following the general migration of humans north. The Twins could be playing the Seals or the Polar Bears for the division championship, led by old man Berrios and Graterol. Good times ahead!

    • Han Joelo, Craig Arko and mikelink45 like this

Interesting comment on the heat.......the globe is warming, so starting later and going only 7 innings might be a thing.....I had not thought of that at all.

 

I agree expansion and 154 games are almost inevitable. Living in Portland, I just don't see how it will work, given the size of the corporate world here, but I do think it will come here. Tampa will lose its franchise, and Portland, Charlotte, and Montreal will get teams.

    • mikelink45 likes this

The electronic strike zone is a must. Umpires usually do a good job, but its ridiculous that veteran hitters get more breaks than rookies. Also, inconsistency behind the dish can be the difference in a game.

 

The universal DH is an ABSOLUTE MUST!!! Watching a pitcher flail at three pitches is boring. Bunting is boring. Watching a pitcher (see Wainwright, Adam) and an expensive star pitcher at that, get injured because of offense will, sadly, be the straw that breaks the camel's back. The DH will be universal at some point. Also, it's not fair to either team to play sporadic interleague series and the World Series with different rules than normal. Baseball has enough quirks, it doesn't need the different rules one also.

 

Expansion seems more likely than contraction. Maybe the MLB does an Eastern and Western conference? Who knows, but a realignment will be a fun change.

 

Bottom line, tradition is not relevant. Progress is what matters. Appeal to tradition has held baseball back for too long and it's time to see some changes.

Let's see:

 

- Robo-umps

- Pitching clock

- Limited number of substitutions per game

- Mandatory roofs due to climate change

- Banning of smokeless tobacco from the game

- DH in both leagues

- Banning of religious activities in the ballpark

- Pay for performance MLB contracts

- Livable minimum wage at the minors

- Global draft with 18 minimum age

- 30-man and 50-man rosters replace 25- and 40-

- Easier free agency rules

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MileHighTwinsFan
Jul 25 2018 07:20 PM
I am not against the electronic strike zone, but doesn’t that tilt the game more in favor of hitters? Hitters will grow very accustomed to the strike zone, never having to make adjustments. I would think a bigger strike zone would counter the electronic zone. Rewarding pitchers who can hit the outside corner with a plate that is 2” wider would seem to level the playing field.

I am all for squeezing the juice from the ball to lower the number of homers, which would in turn increase the value of hitters who can hit to all fields, hit and run and steal bases.
    • Doctor Wu likes this

I really liked Seth's take.Ten years from now there better be a change or America's National Past Time will be on the list with Hockey, Rugby, and LaCrosse as "other sports"and I hope to still be alive so do not let that happen.

 

I have lived through the integration, the expansion, the PEDs, and not the metric revolution so I know that change is inevitable.  

What I hope happens is that some stat pusher in a backroom office suddenly has a eureka moment and realizes that 150 years of baseball was not wrong to emphasize the starter.That a poor 7th and 8th by a good starter is better than a parade of peripatetic relievers.Go starters - wins do matter.

 

Then they will replace poor eyesight with a computer and make strikes into strikes while at the same time getting rid of this nonsense called framingwhich is in fact fooling the umpire.Then we can get catchers who can concentrate on fielding, offense, and calling the game.

 

Then someone will discover that we have been making this game into a relief pitcher contest which is as boring as basketballs foul the big guy last three minutes and we will limit the teams to three relief pitchers per game.

 

Teams will pay for OBP, steals, runs scored, bases advanced and let the HR slugger learn how to play the whole game and not just isolated swings. Maybe a courageous team will take up Whitey Herzog's mantle and run its way around the shifts and big K teams and demonstrate why they may have been right to have Coleman, Brock, Henderson, Wills...And to be even more outrageous a fast runner, like a Byron Buxton, will bunt for a hit every time there is a shift.

 

 

I don't picture the schedule changing by shortening, but possibly eliminating off days and having more players on a team. 28 perhaps (what with pitch counts and such) or maybe a flexible number that can be activated/unactivted on game day. The union would like it because more players get major league service time (and pays dues et al).

 

I might also see split seasons, similar to the minors, with winners declared in each half...so teams are kept in contention that way.

 

I would hope ticket prices would stabilize and the thought of sold out stadiums is a better bet than outpricing the common fan. I mean, concessions and gear ARE sold if people are kept interested in a team, right?

 

Electronic strike/ball counting will probably take place, with umpires becoming monitor guys who watch calls on replay.

 

I am not against the electronic strike zone, but doesn’t that tilt the game more in favor of hitters? Hitters will grow very accustomed to the strike zone, never having to make adjustments. I would think a bigger strike zone would counter the electronic zone. Rewarding pitchers who can hit the outside corner with a plate that is 2” wider would seem to level the playing field.

I am all for squeezing the juice from the ball to lower the number of homers, which would in turn increase the value of hitters who can hit to all fields, hit and run and steal bases.

I've seen plenty of examples of pitchers throwing strikes, often in tight situations, and not getting the call from umps. A lot of times it's a high fastball that catches the top of the zone after some low pitches. I can understand how the high heat can fool an ump, but that pitcher deserves that strike, and a robo ump would give it to him. Pitchers that can scatter balls around the zone should not be punished when they're throwing strikes. 

 

I, for one, welcome our robot masters. 

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MileHighTwinsFan
Jul 26 2018 06:11 AM
My point is that hitters, over time, will master the strike zone and gain an advantage. To me it is inherent to the game that each umpire’s unique tendencies bring a different dynamic to the game. In some ways the fact that the strike zone is different every night is something that both hitters and pitchers need to consider. The art of pitching and hitting is to know each umpire and their tendencies.

I don’t think the umpire calling balls and strikes is sacred, but I do think the game could compensate for this added dimension by widening the strike zone with the addition of the computerized zone.

Widening and/or heightening the zone would level the playing field by giving pitchers an opportunity to place their pitches in locations that are a bit more difficult for the hitters.

My point is that hitters, over time, will master the strike zone and gain an advantage. To me it is inherent to the game that each umpire’s unique tendencies bring a different dynamic to the game. In some ways the fact that the strike zone is different every night is something that both hitters and pitchers need to consider. The art of pitching and hitting is to know each umpire and their tendencies.

I don’t think the umpire calling balls and strikes is sacred, but I do think the game could compensate for this added dimension by widening the strike zone with the addition of the computerized zone.

Widening and/or heightening the zone would level the playing field by giving pitchers an opportunity to place their pitches in locations that are a bit more difficult for the hitters.


Hitting the baseball is so hard as it is. I'm fine with batters 'mastering' the strike zone... As long as they put the ball in play, and not just look for a walk every PA.

Probably two dudes on the kiss cam

 

- Banning of religious activities in the ballpark

 

I don't think the sign of the cross will go away anytime soon, if ever in our lifetimes.

Expansion of rosters? No doubt, good point.

 

universal DH? yup, that too.

 

world wide draft? Agreed, though that will be very bad for Central American players.

    • TheLeviathan likes this
Expanding rosters a disaster...unless it comes with big restrictions (enforceable) on pitching changes.
Also, getting rid of the rule 5 draft.

 

I don't think the sign of the cross will go away anytime soon, if ever in our lifetimes.

That's the universal sign for stealing home, right?

 

By 2028 the temperatures may be such that all teams will at least be in process of building enclosures and air-condition the stadia, or lawsuits of players and/or fans dropping from heat exhaustion could be the new form of ambulance chasing.

    • Mike Sixel likes this
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lukeduke1980
Jul 26 2018 01:38 PM

They've said the juiced balls might be a product of a more consistent manufacturing process, so I don't see that changing.

 

I think maple bats will be outlawed by then however.

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ashburyjohn
Jul 27 2018 11:56 AM

The automated strike zone will come, and I agree with the perception that it will aid batters more than it does the pitchers. But the lively ball is already considered a problem, and so reducing its resilience would be a worthy counter to that little "unintended consequence". The further benefit of a less-bouncy ball would be that run-of-the-mill batters will figure out quickly that their exaggerated launch angles are no longer giving them cheap homers, and an increased emphasis on line drives or bunting would be in most hitters' self-interest instead of warning-track shots while adding fan-interest to the game. The strike zone can be adjusted upward or downward, if that isn't enough, likewise the height of the mound. Defensive shifts have always been part of the game and there's no incentive to regulate them, if the batters are no longer swinging from the heels every time; 150+ years ago there was a term "scientific hitting" and it needs to be revived. Daisy-cutters, gentlemen, daisy-cutters!

 

I would like to see bullpens moved closer to the dugout, and establish a zero-warmup-pitch rule once the reliever enters the game. (What was he doing in the dugout all that time, anyway?) Make it a rule that the reliever be in the dugout already, before coming into the game - he won't cool off that quickly. Cutting down this dead-time when the manager decides to play chess with lefty-righty matchups would go a long way toward eliminating the complaints about the game being boring, and perhaps adds a small element of strategy for the manager to contend with. In addition, a short pitch clock (15 seconds) that applies to batter and pitcher alike would be helpful - velcro wrist straps don't come loose each and every pitch. There's a mantra players repeat, of "slow the game down", that is wise so that the game doesn't overwhelm you, but if both sides are required to keep the game moving then the disadvantage is about equal - if not, then adjust the resiliency of the ball, the strike zone size, or the height of the mound, as discussed above.

 

Cutting the game down to 7 innings has so many unintended consequences that I hardly even want to approach that topic. Nine innings of crisply played baseball are not too much, anyway.

 

I don't foresee owners giving away money, so I don't expect larger rosters nor shorter seasons.

 

Regarding expansion, don't overlook a third team in New York. The populace certainly could support one, and the ballpark (currently in partial form) is already there at Coney Island in Brooklyn, where the low-A Cyclones play. I'd do that in preference to Portland, not that I dislike that city, but I don't want to see another Oakland situation where a reasonably sized city is squeezed because a bigger one is too closeby. Expansion is problematic, though, because I don't see a viable 32nd candidate - Montreal could be tried again if and only if its previous financial disadvantage can be corrected. Maybe a Carolinas team could achieve a regional appeal that would let it succeed - Charlotte is about as close to Atlanta as Portland is to Seattle but probably there are larger populations to draw from there.

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ashburyjohn
Jul 27 2018 12:07 PM

Probably two dudes on the kiss cam

You, sir or ma'am, are late to the party.

 

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TheLeviathan
Jul 27 2018 07:32 PM

The DH will be universal.The game will be better for it.


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