Rob Manfred Agrees To Discuss Limiting The “Shift” And It Might Help Save Baseball

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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.

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.

Written by Gary Sheffield, Jr

Gary Sheffield Jr is the son of should-be MLB Hall of Famer, Gary Sheffield. He covers basketball and baseball for, chats with the Purple and Gold faithful on LakersNation, and shitposts on Twitter. You can follow him at GarySheffieldJr


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  1. I would hardly call present day baseball a train wreck. It’s biggest problem is the average viewer’s attention span in this day and age.

    Travel baseball has been a detriment to little league and getting as many kids playing as possible.

    Baseball also needs more mega-stars that have likable personalities.

    • The revenue they’re seeing from ratings is in fact a train wreck. People aren’t nearly as excited for the sport today. Sure, attention spans are shorter, but why test our attention spans even further with the shift. “Two true outcome” baseball isn’t a fun watch for either generation so no need to try it with generation Z or millennials.

      • Why dictate where a defensive player sets up? What’s next, circles in the OF where the Outfielders must remain until the crack of the bat? Baseball is an instinctive sport. Andruw Jones didn’t rely completely on scouting reports and coache’s direction to know where to troll. He just trolled instinctively. If you start mandating defensive positioning, why not explore ghost runners? Adjust to the shift. Enough left hand batters learn to hit the other way, guess what? The shift disappears. Quit being a bulldozer parent and let your kid(s) figure it out.

    • Good point in travel ball. That’s the biggest difference I see in the game from when I played little league between 89-95. Then the only travel team was the all star team if you made it. All stars had a tourney to advance, not another 50 game season. Now, parents have to invest thousands of dollars, hundreds of miles of travel, and most importantly ALL SUMMER to play and practice on a decent team. That flat out sucks. It’s all a money making scam now for the travel leagues, accompanied by lunatic coaches and obsessive parents who have no understanding of balance in life.
      All that results in a reduced pool of “athletes” who want (or even like) to play baseball, because they’d rather not play one sport 6-7 months a year. Who does? The best players play multiple sports, not baseball 365. Or they’re Latino who play to simply make it out of squalor. It’s money driven. To me, all that has ruined the love of the kid’s game of baseball. Normal parents don’t want to “sacrifice” to play a game, but to be seen by scouts that’s the drill. Insanity breeds insanity. Kids get burned out or just lose interest in the game early because it’s been ruined by travel league nutjobs chasing fame and $$$. Ok off my soap box. Kids, have fun and tell travel leagues to bite it.

  2. The shift is a symptom, not the disease. The real problem is the attitude that “Bryce Harper was paid $330 million to hit bombs deep into the bleachers and spray hits with runners in scoring position”, and “Bryce Harper deciding to bunt in a situation like this is a win for the opponent, regardless of outcome”. Both statements are garbage. Harper is paid to play the game to advance his team’s interests. If that means advancing a runner or bunting a single, that’s what he does.

    Swinging for the fences every pitch and striking out 200 times a year is complete idiocy – and it makes for incredibly boring baseball. The shift happens precisely because “stars” like Harper are told they should just swing away in every circumstance. Good for him to take advantage of the defense. If more players did this, the annoying shift would go away on its own.

  3. Gary.good article. The shift has to go. Analytics became the new religion for most general managers and they hire puppet managers who get sent pages of stats before each game. The players are platooned to death and then blamed when they can’t get into a groove. What Cashman and Boone did to Miguel Andujar was criminal. The game needs help.

  4. Rather than trying to regulate the defense, let’s move the outfield walls back to disincentivize constantly swinging for the fences. When you do that, you also create a lot more room for not only singles short of the outfielders, but also gap doubles/triples (exciting plays). You also put a greater premium on speed and arms in the outfield. If down the line was 360 and straight away center was 430, your monster home runs world still go, but those towing fly balls that eek over now works be easy outs, though potentially productive if you have runners on base.
    Another crazy idea world be to go to 7x 4 out innings. The idea is to further incentivize getting runners on since you have an extra chance to knock them in.
    The shift creates interesting decision-making which baseball needs. A long outfield could see more teams try the 4-outfielder approach for certain situations.

    Want more base stealing? Besides making HRs less likely, force lefties to step off before throwing over. None of this 45 degrees slide step crud they get away with.

  5. The world we live in really sucks. Bring back the 70s, 80s and early 90s. Bring back arcades and kids riding their bikes. Get rid of travel ball. Teach hitters to go opposite field and quit taking 1st pitch strikes no matter what. The NBA sucks. NFL refs throw flags on almost every fucking play and change outcomes. Fuck the NFL. Today’s movies suck. Really suck. I have to purchase an 80s or 90s movie I’ve seen a hundred times if I want to watch a great movie. Ok. I feel a little better.

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