The rule changes are in place and they're all good. The time clock changes are universally approved. It's hard to understand why this wasn't done long ago. The only parts of the game eliminated are dead time when no play was occurring. I suppose this wasn't a big deal when most viewers were at the ballpark and had paid for an experience they might not have wanted shortened.
Last year, I think it was, I humorously suggested that every time a player stepped out of the batter's box to adjust his batting gloves he had to give $100 to the local homeless shelter. The time clock has pretty much taken care of that ( sorry homeless). A batter under the new rules gets one time out per at bat where he could adjust his batting gloves but otherwise that is gone by the wayside.
Now of course 99% of viewers are watching the games on TV and want to see the action moving. Game times have been substantially shortened without shortening actual play. As good or better is the limitation of pick-off attempts at first base, the most boring part of the old game.
I was against elimination of the shift because it changed the rules. I’ve changed my mind. Banning the shift has improved the game by adding offense in the form of ground ball hits. It has returned the game to the way it had been played from 1850 to 2000. Too small a sample yet but it seems to me batting averages will rise with less reason to emphasize launch angle, to hit it over the head of that gaggle of infielders, and also that should reduce strikeouts. The batter is much more likely to make contact if he is swinging levelly, i. e., on the same plane as the pitch.
Larger bases along with limiting pick-offs is already resulting in more steals, more action.
I disagreed with the ghost runner rule but it is here to stay. My problem was that it would affect the records baseball geeks like me revere.. My example was DiMaggio's hitting streak. My faulty research told me the Yankee Clipper needed extra innings to keep his streak going. Again I was wrong. In fact DiMaggio kept his streak going through more than one rain shortened game.
During the 56 game streak he was walked a lot but struck out only five times. That to me is more amazing than the hitting streak. The records that will be affected by the end of extra Innings are season and one game totals. As remarkable and likely as untouchable as DiMaggio's streak is Ricky Henderson's theft of 130 bases in 1982. Without looking it up I'm confident he stole some of those bases in extra Innings.
MLB agrees with me that the ghost runner rule is not real baseball because it isn't allowed in the playoffs. Next time I will discuss the Braves. - Ellis Millsaps (Ellis can be reached at: