Grandfathers everywhere are about to shit their diapers.
The MLB announced today that they will be testing out new potential rule changes in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) — a minor baseball league that has partnered with the MLB since 2019. The Atlantic League has been the MLB’s guinea pig in the past, testing rules such as three batter minimums and larger bases, as well as some that never made it to the majors like automated balls and strikes.
The ALPB will give three rules trial runs this season, including a designated pinch runner, single disengagement from the rubber, and a “double hook” designated hitter.
The designated pinch runner rule will allow teams to list one player outside of the starting lineup as a designated runner. This player will then be able to baserun for any other player without penalty, meaning both the runner and hitter can return to gameplay. Personally, I think this always should have been the rule and I’m not sure why it’s taken the league so long to figure it out. I hope the MLB adopts this change. If so, I fully expect to never see Danny Burgers standing on first again.
Opposite the brilliance of the designated pinch runner is the idea to only allow pitchers to step off the rubber once per at bat, either to attempt a pickoff or reset the pitch clock. I mean that’s just stupid. I understand wanting to speed up the game, but while I do love the implementation of the pitch clock, I think that is enough. Limiting pickoffs gives an insane advantage to the runner. As soon a pitcher is unsuccessful in a pickoff attempt, the runner will instantly take a massive lead with no fear of consequence. You are basically giving up free steals. So while this rule would speed up games and increase scoring (two things that I think would make the game more entertaining), I don’t think it’s the best way to accomplish these goals. I like the idea of limiting pickoffs and adding consequences for wasting everyone’s time, but one attempt is just not enough. Maybe up it to two or three and I’d be onboard.
Finally, the Atlantic League will try out the “double hook” DH, which kind of sounds like a great idea. Essentially what the “double hook” entails is that in order for a team to retain their DH for the entirety of the game, their starting pitcher must pitch at least five full innings. If the starter is pulled before the completion of the fifth, the DH spot will be filled with the pitcher for the remainder of the game. I love this rule. It adds so much more strategy to the game when it comes to pulling pitchers early. For instance, while pulling a pitcher early may help the defense in some cases, it will ultimately negatively affect the offense. Furthermore (big word, I’m a genius), the spot at which the DH hits becomes increasingly important in the case that a manager is forced to pull their pitcher early. This change incentivizes teams to keep their starters in, which will lead to more tired pitchers meaning more runs, and less pitching changes which means shorter game times.
I genuinely hope the MLB ends up ratifying the designated runner and DH-DH rules. I could see the pickoff rule working if it’s upped a little, but in all in all I’m excited for the future of baseball. As someone with undiagnosed ADHD, I appreciate the MLB being aware of their pitfalls and trying to make the sport more appealing to my failing generation that lacks just as much patience as we do patriotism. So here’s to the future of America’s pastime, may it be twice as exciting in half the time. Sorry, Grandpa.