MLB commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t the most popular man in many circles.
Baseball fans have given Manfred a hard time in recent years over some of his governing decisions and rule changes.
Recently, Manfred has introduced a flurry of new MLB rules, none of which have gone over particularly well with fans.
Rob Manfred is changing the rules, the balls, and doing all these other things, when the way to grow the game is right in front of his face.
He has 3 young studs fighting for the home run crown, a unicorn who can pitch and hit, and two incredible aces in NYC.
MARKET YOUR STARS!
— Yankees Analytics Nerds (29-22-6) (@YankeesNerds) June 4, 2021
Here are the three worst rules Manfred has instituted during his time as commissioner.
3. Extra-Inning Baserunner Rule
For each of the last two MLB seasons, Manfred has instituted a pace-of-play-related rule in an attempt to prevent extraordinarily long extra-inning games.
The rule, as you likely have gathered, is that each team starts the 10th inning (and each successive inning) with a free runner at second base.
On one hand, this rule isn’t all that bad.
The free runner creates an immediate sense of urgency as soon as the game hits extras.
It’s instant action, and most games are won or lost within the first one or two extra frames.
On the other hand, the rule has a very exhibition-esque vibe to it, and that’s something baseball should be looking to move away from.
Most genuine baseball fans don’t want to see a game end on a gimmicky rule.
On top of that, the most common template for getting that run home is a very boring one.
All it takes is a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly.
2. Seven-Inning Doubleheaders
Just like the free runner rule, seven-inning doubleheaders do have some benefits.
Shortened games have a heightened intensity because every run is a big run and every out is a big out.
The games also don’t force teams to burn through an entire bullpen worth of arms in one day, which most people would agree is a plus.
But those two perks aside, this rule is hard to get behind.
It’s another gimmicky rule that makes the games feel less legitimate than a traditional nine-inning contest.
These seven-inning doubleheader games are an abomination. Hopefully MLB and the MLBPA come to their senses and don't make them permanent.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) May 27, 2021
Many fans likely decided they’d had enough of this rule when Arizona Diamondbacks veteran Madison Bumgarner tossed a seven-inning no-hitter earlier this season, but it was deemed unofficial by the league.
How can MLB say these seven-inning games are legitimate up until a guy throws a no-hitter in one of them?
Bumgarner’s achievement should be celebrated regardless, because he did everything in his power to make history that day.
It wasn’t his fault that he was robbed of the opportunity to make it official by finishing the job over the final two innings.
1. The Deadened Balls
It’s common knowledge at this point that offense is way down across the board in 2021.
It’s also widely known that the baseballs were marginally deadened prior to the season.
While it seems logical to connect the two, the real reason offense is down likely has more to do with a combination of power pitching and an all-or-nothing hitting approach that has taken over the game.
That said, the principle idea of deadening the balls is troublesome.
Fans love the long ball.
Fans want to see offensive shootouts.
What fans don’t want to see is a low-scoring pitcher’s duel every time they turn on the TV.
It will be very interesting to see if Manfred reverses course on this rule after the season.