Saturday, February 17, 2007

Rules are Made to be....

Bud Selig is looking to solidify his tenure as Commissioner with a reputation for being tough on rules-breakers. It took him the better part of his time in the job to do anything but garner criticism for a lot of awkward moves, and lack of moves like the All Star tie of several years ago. In recent times, our fine commish has dedicated himself (under Federal pressure) to toughening the penalties for PED users and the like. His legacy has been teetering dangerously on the precipice of the steroid era for allowing the worst imaginable sin against the game since the 1919 White Sox to grow on his watch.

The latest announcement by the Major League office regarding the enforcement of on-field rules is perhaps another Giuliani-esque move to be the no-nonsense, tough on crime, commissioner of our national pass time. Lets take a look at the "new" things in store for players and organizations in 2007.

1. Tie games which are postponed will be picked up where they left off.

This is a no-brainer. As I understand it, this means that a game which is resumed on a future date will start where the delay began, say in the 7th inning, and the record of the prior play will count. Up until now, the game would be completely replayed from the start and the 3 homer effort that one lucky guy put up would be wiped out. Not anymore. Good decision.

2. Time between pitches

The time between pitches, when no one is on base, has been reduced from 20 seconds to 12. This is a great idea, but the enforcement of it will be very tough. How does it work when a pitcher and catcher can't seem to get together? Will the ump be a hard-ass and award a ball? Can you imagine the on field fights that will emerge if that happens? It's a bit like the 3-second rule in basketball. It's not always enforced 100%, but those games when it is get very tedious. A lot of angry players, coaches, and fans. The flow of the game is actually worse when on-field judges get too involved. Where does this rule begin and end? Supposedly this has worked very well in the minor leagues for several years, so we'll keep an eye on it.

3. One foot in the batter's box

This is the Bernie Williams rule, and one more reason why he probably is better off calling it a career. Unless there are game-related reasons to step out, a batter must keep one foot in the box throughout his at bat. This should also pose an interesting new set of circumstances on games. It will almost certainly make for some interesting photographic moments with players striking various one-footed poses. How many times will we see Derek Jeter step out to "clean sand out of his eyes" in 2007?

4. Ball doctoring

This is the "game play" version of the steroids issue. Any scuffing, rosin, or whatever else pitchers try to do with the ball is out. 10 game suspension for violators. Kenny Rogers would certainly have missed the rest of the playoffs had the umpire followed his brown hand from the Yankees series. It will be interesting to see if anyone gets nailed for this in 2007. I expect it will be a very serious issue in the media and among the players if anyone is caught "brown-handed".

5. Official scoring

This is very interesting to me. "Defensive indifference", for example, will have a broader definition this year, with more latitude for scorers to use their judgement about game situation when awarding stolen bases late in games, when no one covers the bag. If I can get my hands on the complete revisions of "Rule 10" regarding official scoring, I'll post it here.

On a separate note, Kei Igawa plays "shogi" in the Yankees locker room, learned to say, "What's up?", and likes hot dogs. I love this guy already. Matsuzaka may be the superior baseball player, but Igawa is by far the most interesting player in pinstriped this year. Looking forward to whatever little slice of heaven he comes up with next.....(Plus Posada says his control is uncanny. Jorge also says Hughes is a Major Leaguer right now, and is even better this camp than last year when he compared him to Rocket. Oh baby!)


Chris V said...

Igawa is also learning Spanish! I like the guy. He was a good strike out pitcher in Japan, and he has been working very hard to not only translate that here, but also to fit in as one of the guys. Call me naive and overly optimistic, but I expect good things from Igawa and serviceable outings from Pavano, akin to what Randy Johnson gave us last season (maybe a higher WHIP).

As for the rules, the new game winning home run rule seemed to come out of the blue. Someone explained it for me, but it's still a little murky in my mind.

Mike Plugh said...

I agree on that one Chris (the HR rule). Where did that come from and did I miss something?

Igawa will do just fine. He'll alternate bad starts and good starts, probably, but he should be a pleasant surprise. Jorgie already likes his control a lot.

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