While my life would not be terribly impacted by a protracted baseball labor dispute, it is good to see that we will be getting a relatively normal baseball season this year. While the season may be starting a few days later than originally planned, I consider that win. Who wants to watch baseball in Cleveland in March anyway? My ideal opening day is actually the same day as the NCAA men’s basketball National Championship game. It won’t work out that way this year, but if it gets us out of Cleveland in March I’ll take it.
It’ll be good to have more than a dozen games to choose from on most nights. I’d rather watch a few innings of a Cubs/Cardinals game than scroll to the bottom of Netflix just to watch “The Comeback” for the 300th time.
Also, I’ll be a part of that thirty-something bachelor party Joe talked about a few weeks ago (no word if I’m a Stu or a Phil) and am thankful that baseball will be played that weekend. It’s always nice to have a sporting event to build those weekends around. Especially in flyover country. It’ll be a hell of a lot cheaper to put back some beers at a baseball game I won’t pay attention to than at a country music concert I won’t pay attention to (which was the backup plan).
But in addition to just getting baseball back, and some important financial gains for players, it sounds like there will be some improvements to the on-field product as well. A subtitle for this CBA could well be The Base Ball Modernization Act of 2022.
- I am all in favor of the Universal Designated Hitter. If Shohei Ohtani wants to hit on days he pitches, he still can! That is fun to watch, and it’s always fun to see a pitcher go deep! But that so rarely happened. Most plate appearances for pitchers were perfunctory bunts, strikeouts, or groundouts. This adds more action to the game by replacing these plate appearances with more competitive plate appearances. It also speeds the game up by reducing pinch hitters and pitching changes.
- I could go either way on expanded playoffs. A 12-team playoff sure beats a 14 or 16-team playoff, though. I’ll miss the potential for chaos with no more tiebreaker games, but if that means the playoffs can start the day after the regular season ends I’m for it. Also of note, the playoff teams in each league will not be reseeded after the first round. Not sure why hockey and football reseed, while basketball and now baseball don’t, but I am firmly against reseeding. If #8 beats #1, they shouldn’t be rewarded with #2 in the next round. They’ve earned the right to take on the #4/#5 winner.
- Starting in 2023, every team will play every other team every year. This is a huge step forward. While it might not mean every team visits every stadium each year, at least you’ll get to see everyone else at least once. There’s no need to play half of your games against your four divisional opponents any more. Variety in scheduling is good, and allows MLB to schedule more creatively if/when necessary. Red Sox fans in Colorado and Phoenix rejoice!
- Also in 2023 we could see larger bases, the dreaded pitch clock, and the shift banned. I have absolutely no opinion on the size of the bases. I do not care. I don’t love the pitch clock, but it has become a necessity. I am 100% in favor of banning the shift. You can’t play zone defense in the NBA. You can’t drill the center on special teams plays in the NFL. Ban the shift, improve the game, and move on.
It took longer to get a deal done than fans and players wanted, but it seems like there is enough here to make it worth it. I’m ready for winter to be over and to throw back some crispy boys at the ballpark. Let’s go.