Welcome to our new web site!

To give our readers a chance to experience all that our new website has to offer, we have made all content freely avaiable, through October 1, 2018.

During this time, print and digital subscribers will not need to log in to view our stories or e-editions.

Baseball curmudgeon applauds change


“The only clocks in a Major League stadium should tell us the time of day, and they should do so using hands, not digits.”

That was my posting on our fantasy baseball message board a couple of years ago when Major League officials began toying with the idea of a pitch clock.

Baseball has long provided refuge to curmudgeonly traditionalists like me who revere the sport’s history and fret over anything that would change the game we learned to love as a child. Other Johnny-Come-Latelys like the NBA and NFL can tinker with the rule book every year, but baseball should remain consistent.

I never understood all the complaints about games lasting more than three hours. Do people get mad at Bruce Springsteen when he comes out for a third encore? Who cares if it screws up the TV schedule? For fans, it means more time at the ballpark.

Baseball is the one game where time doesn’t matter. All of the other major sports are a race to beat the clock. There is a frenzy in the final moments of a close game, where fractions of a second can make the difference between victory and defeat, and all eyes are on the clock.

Winning teams in baseball have to earn the final out. There are still unpredictable finishes, but they aren’t as frantic. Fans watch the scoreboard to track the number of outs left in the game, not the number of seconds.

That leads to a more leisurely pace I’ve always found appealing. But, there’s a fine line between leisurely and boring, and baseball was tilting in the wrong direction.

The new rule this year limiting the amount of time between pitches has worked better than I thought it would. The pace of the game is much better now, and it’s easier to stay focused on the action.

Other new rules this year include larger bases and a limit on how many times pitchers can attempt to pick runners off base. Those have dramatically increased the number of stolen bases. And, new restrictions prohibiting defensive shifts have led to higher batting averages.

Some of these rules may go too far, and there could be further tweaks. But the bigger story is baseball is finally willing to change at all.

The change that Major League baseball still desperately needs is a salary structure that allows all teams to compete on an equal footing. The New York Mets are paying their players a combined total of more than $353 million this year. The Oakland Athletics are paying their players just under $57 million. That’s simply not a fair competition.

Walter Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com