Columns/Opinion, Sean Manning

Messing with the baseball season not a good idea

My colleague Justin Jackson brought up a point this week about the continuing efforts to make games, especially baseball, faster.

Clocks have been added at the college level to center field walls that force pitchers to throw within 15 seconds. In the Major Leagues, a 12-second clock begins when the pitcher receives the ball back from the catcher with no runners on base.

Teams are now given six mound visits to try and cut down on catchers running to his pitcher after every other pitch to make sure both are on the same page. Once those six visits are up, the only time anyone can visit the mound is during a pitching change.

The beauty of baseball, unlike other sports, is that time isn’t a determining factor. The players decide it on the field when the game comes to an end.

With all of the talk about “pace of play,” clocks and other limitations are being added to help appease the younger audience and bring in new viewers. While baseball should do everything it can to bring in a new fans every season, changing the way the game is played shouldn’t be one of them.

Time is not the only thing being discussed to change in baseball. Another critique from casual fans is that the regular season is just too damn long.

“You really expect us to watch 162 games? There’s no way I can keep up with that.”

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo stoked the fire Tuesday when he said they play “too much baseball.”

“Yes, guys are going to take pay cuts. But are we playing this game for the money or do we love this game? I know it’s both, but in the long run it will make everything better,” he said.

Rizzo hasn’t played in two weeks because of lower-back stiffness. His main argument is that the season begins too early and teams are forced to play in cold weather. So far this season, nearly 30 games have been postponed because of rain, snow or cold.

The weather is a problem that no one can control, and Rizzo has a good point that starting the season in May would alleviate some of these issues.

However, shortening the season for the sake of “it’s just too long” doesn’t make any sense to me. Like Justin said when talking about pace of play, “In its truest form, sports are still our escape into a world where there is supposed to be no more political scandal, sickness or money problems.”

Why would we want less of something we love? The MLB season in itself is a journey, beginning in the cold of March, going through the high heat of summer and ending in the cold of fall. That’s the beauty of it.

I’ll never understand why those who are already fans of the game want less of it. If you think baseball in April is meaningless — which is wrong since games in April count as much as those in September — then don’t watch it.

Don’t try and take away something from those who actually do enjoy watching baseball for six-straight months.

New fans would still think 142 games is too long, so argument about drawing them in is nonsense.  Shortening the season by 20 games will not make little Johnny all of a sudden flip on MLB Network.

Just stop messing with baseball. It’s one of the most pure games we still have.