Major League Baseball players have made it clear they hate commissioner Rob Manfred’s new pace of game proposal. According to various reports, the players vehemently rejected Manfred’s plans, and are going to force him to enact his power as commissioner in order to bring pitch clocks and limited mound visits to baseball.
At the time those reports emerged, it was reasonable to question why the players were fighting so hard against the new rules. Were they suddenly traditionalists? Were they trying to re-assert themselves after a slow winter? Were they doing this as a PR move?
It’s possible all of those things played a role in their decision, but it’s also true that the players have legitimate concerns about how the rules will impact the game. Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. revealed a fairly significant one on Friday.
You can’t limit mound visits, especially from the catcher, when everyone is using adv tech to steal signs. You have to change them too often to try to keep things as “even” as possible. And I’m not talking about signs when a man is on second. https://t.co/VsNhPMlnWX
— Lance McCullers Jr. (@LMcCullers43) January 19, 2018
Part of Manfred’s proposal, which was laid out by our own Jeff Passan, calls for mound visits to be severely limited. Any time a coach, catcher or player goes to the mound, that counts as a visit. The second time that happens in an inning, the pitcher must be removed from the game.
That would certainly speed up the game. Mound visits can be frustrating to watch. And when there are 3-4 in a single inning, it’s easy for even the most passionate baseball fan to grow impatient.
As McCullers explains, they happen for a reason. It’s all part of the strategy that goes into the game. Hitters are constantly trying to steal signals, so pitchers need to constantly make adjustments.
While pitchers and catchers can change signs in the dugout each inning, McCullers is saying that is not enough. Veteran players have been stealing signs for years. Some are probably really good at it, so pitchers need those mid-inning adjustments.
It may be too late for the players to reach a compromise with Manfred now. Unless Manfred agrees to hear their suggestions after the players harshly rejected his proposal, pitchers and catchers are going to have to get a lot more creative in 2018.
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