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Major League Baseball’s ratings have dwindled for years and while some point to the absence of steroids, others point to the abuse of defensive shifting. Now, commissioner Rob Manfred sets his sights on a conversation to make the game a least resembled what it was when we were kids.
Manfred was asked about the shift on The Dan Patrick Show.
“A lot of people feel that the extreme shifting that you’re talking about has changed the game in ways that are not positive and it remains a really hot topic in terms of conversation within that committee,” Manfred said.
Rob Manfred says on the @dpshow that shifts could be limited in future: “A lot of people feel that the extreme shifting that you’re talking about has changed the game in ways that are not positive and it remains a really hot topic in terms of conversation within that committee.”— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 23, 2020
He’s on the money that the game has completely changed and has become unrecognizable from even a decade ago. It’s not enjoyable for fans of past eras to see the shortstop now playing 30 feet into the outfield grass; it’s not baseball. Kids have been taught from tee ball through college that hitting the ball up the middle is a good thing. Now, hitting the ball 115 miles-an-hour to the pull side three times is good for three outs.
Does it matter?
Baseball viewership has been declining, so maybe the shift is part of the reason why? Some will agree the shift is miserable, but it’s possible it’s not the only thing hurting the game. At the very least, we should acknowledge the sport isn’t remotely similar to the game we were taught to love. For some, the only aspect of the game they remember seeing is the bat and the ball. Even the baseball isn’t the same as they’ve clearly juiced it to encourage the long ball.
Present day baseball is a complete train wreck.
Here’s a video of Bryce Harper doing what he is literally paid not to do.
For example, Bryce Harper was paid $330 million to hit bombs deep into the bleachers and spray hits with runners in scoring position. Man on first base up two runs and your best player is now bunting because the second baseman is in right field. It should be noted that lining up into right field was his go-to in order to be successful.
Let’s play devil’s advocate to dismantle defenders of the shift.
Bryce Harper deciding to bunt in a situation like this is a win for the opponent, regardless of outcome. The Marlins just forced one of the game’s most feared hitters to poke a ball 50 feet so he could essentially walk. Don’t forget he dealt absolutely no damage by achieving this new goal and now, they pitch to the next guy. No one flipped the channel to the Phillies broadcast or went to the park to see the guy hitting after Bryce Harper and the shift made sure the team’s best player had no platform to shine.
Commissioner Manfred has been overall a turd sandwich for the fans of baseball, but he’s making the right move here. Entertaining the thought of limiting the shift might help save some old school viewers. We’re not saying to force the shortstop to plant his feet where he’s supposed to, but perhaps disallowing his right to stand in the bleachers in right field?
Baseball has some major work to do and we should all be excited what changes could be coming. After all, it couldn’t get much worse.