Major Leagues: Baseball wants to win you back

Major Leagues: Baseball wants to win you back


50 years ago, 34 million Americans watched the World Series. Last year, they were 11.7. That's less than some college football games. It's not going well for baseball, really not well. Like all major sports circuits, fans are tempted to follow something else, see something else and experience something else. So for such a conservative sport, it's even harder to compete. But that's what the league is starting to try to compose this year with the new regulations that were becoming inevitable to win back fans. These fans are leaving in particular because baseball has become much too long. In the playoffs, games could last more than four hours. For a family sport, this is insane. Here are the new rules that aim to increase the spectacle and shorten the matches.   

Pin runners

Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees pins Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays on Feb. 28.

A change that is less talked about, but will have a major impact, concerns the attempts to retire runners on base by pitchers. Stealing is increasingly becoming a relic in Major League Baseball, which wants to elevate its spectacle by allowing rules that would bring it back to the forefront. The league wants teams to bet on something other than home runs. Now pitchers will no longer be able to throw at will to first base to pin a runner. That's twice at most. On the third attempt, if the runner was not on the run, the pitcher will be awarded a balk and the runner to advance to next base. Added to the stopwatch rule, this means that the racers will have quite an advantage and will certainly be able to fly more easily. Goals also go from 15 to 18 inches. So the goals will be closer. It may not sound like much, but a lot of steals are decided by a few inches. 


Jay Groome, on the mound, during a game against the Seattle Mariners, the February 24.

Casters now have 15 seconds between each cast. If they're too slow, it's a batter's ball. The latter must also be ready, in the rectangle, when there are 8 seconds left of the 15. Otherwise, it is a strike to the batter. That's when there are no runners on the trails. Otherwise, casters have 20 seconds. All of this led to very strange situations during training camp. Cal Conley of the Braves was called out to end a game when it took him too long to get into the batting box. Yankees' Wandy Peralta struck out Tucupita Marcano on three strikes in 20 seconds. It was probably the fastest strikeout in baseball history. Already in effect in the minor leagues, this regulation has reduced games by 26 minutes on average. For matches in the Cactus and Pamplemousses leagues, we are talking about an average of 2 hours 38 minutes for the moment. That's over 20 minutes less.  

Special Defense

Overview during a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, February 27.

This is the most controversial regulation. Teams will no longer be able to plant most of their players on the same side of the field in order to better remove heavy hitters who always hit in the same direction. Each team must have two players between first and second base, as well as between second and third base. And the infield players will have to stay in the infield. The Red Sox have already found a solution to circumvent the rule, however, by placing two outfielders in the same field against Joey Gallo. At this point, it will be up to the batters to adjust or make room for another.