While perusing the vast expanse that is the information superhighway (there’s a term you don’t hear anymore), I spotted two articles about baseball that will impact the Astros. One, I loved. Another made me want to cry.
First, the crying thing.
Apparently, MLB is considering some rules changes: the pitch clock, universal DH, a three-batter minimum for pitchers, and a study to lower the mound. There were some roster rules changes, too, including a longer DL, more time in the minors when optioned, and, drum roll, a 26-player roster.
The DL and the options things don’t bother me that much. The DL used to be longer. Time in the minors when optioned seems like it would hurt teams without deep farm systems, so I’m not overly upset about that.
But most of this is just nuts.
Let’s start with the worst ones: Lowering the pitcher’s mound and, Lord forbid, a three-batter minimum. I imagine the Players Association would veto a rule that would, essentially, put lefty-specialists out of a job. As for the pitcher’s mound, I thought the idea was to speed up the game? Lowering the mound would turn games into high-scoring track meets.
Also, if you lower the pitcher’s mound, do all stats from that point onward have an asterisk of some sort. “Well, Tony Kemp hit .390 and bashed 36 home runs, still wasn’t good enough to make the All-Star team because that was only league average in both categories.”
And I’m guessing all pitchers’ contracts would mental health provision added. “I feel so inadequate doctor. My curveball just hangs there, and I can’t get leverage with my legs. And now my wife AND MY DOG have left me.”
I’m not sure how I feel about the universal DH. If we’re going to go universal, I’d rather have a universal no-DH, but I’m not sure that toothpaste is ever going back in the tube.
And the pitch clock? I swear, I’ll find Rob Manfred and personally slap him across the face. Hard. A pitch clock will change the very nature of the game.
You know those people who complain that baseball is too slow? Watch a football game. Between the non-stop replay looks and what George Will described as “Committee meetings punctuated by violence,” I’ll take baseball.
As for the NBA, it’s a nonstop game of one-on-one with some bystanders on the court. The league has managed to take the best athletes in the world and make them boring.
Leave baseball alone! And while you’re at it, get off my lawn!
We can all discuss the pitch clock down below, but I literally can think of no reasonable argument for a pitch clock besides “It’s annoying and might shave eight seconds off the average game at the cost of alienating more fans than the rest of these cockamamie ideas combined.”
Now, the good news. Well, the glass-half-full news.
Over at another Astros fan website (something about a mound in centerfield that sadly disappeared), they took an off-hand remark by Justin Verlander and a reply by Jeff Luhnow basically saying, “No comment other than, yes, I know how many starters will be free agents next winter. I’m not stupid,” and took those comments to mean the Astros are working on a deal to extend Verlander. Or Gerrit Cole.
The most encouraging thing about the whole article is the quote from Verlander, saying, “It’s something I wouldn’t be opposed to.”
I’ve been working under the assumption that Verlander – and, more likely, Mrs. Verlander – wants to move back to Michigan before too long. That would mean maybe going back for a swan song in the “Crumbling D.”
But Verlander would be a good get for Houston long-term. Just looking at innings pitched and WAR, he’s been good for 200 IP a season since his injury-shortened 2015, and he’s put up at least 6.2 WAR a season since 2016.
In fact, after a WAR of 4.3 in 2013, 0.9 WAR in 2014 and 2.3 WAR in 2015, he’s been consistent and ace-quality since.
So, fans of baseball and the Houston Astros, I ask:
- What do you think of these rules changes?
- Specifically, let’s talk pitch clock. Is it merely a bad idea or pretty much the worst idea since edible poison ivy?
- Do the Astros NEED to extend at least one of the current four (don’t forget Collin McHugh and Wade Miley) 2019 free agents right now? If so, which one?
By the way, pitchers and catchers report Wednesday. So …
- Who is ready for our long winter’s nap to be done?