MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred looks to speed up game

Brandon Shrider and Brandon Shrider

Recently becoming the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Robert Manfred has quickly begun to discuss changes throughout the sport. Among these changes are implementing a pitch clock, forcing batters to remain in the box, limiting visits to the pitching mound and banning defensive shifting.

While none of these changes are imminent for the Bowling Green baseball team, the sport could begin to experience various changes throughout each level.

Members of the university’s baseball team had a myriad of opinions on the changes and how it might affect its team, college baseball as a whole and what it means for the sport of baseball.

The idea behind these modifications is to both speed up the game and increase offensive production.

“I don’t believe so,” said BG shortstop Brian Bien regarding the notion that banning defensive shifts will increase offensive production. “Even with those shifts, it doesn’t work every time and they still hit the ball hard through holes. So I think a miniscule amount, if any, that it might help improve offensive production.”

“I think being able to get a scouting report on a guy and align your defense to where you think they’re going to hit the ball, I think that definitely helps,” said BG pitcher Jason Link. “Baseball is already kind of a chess match from pitch to pitch, so if you take away the ability of a coach or team to plan for a guy and plan for a team, that kind of takes away from the whole chess match aspect and takes away from the game.”

Suggestions to speed up the game aren’t being welcomed with open arms either.

Despite not being opposed to the possible pitch clock, Link doesn’t see it being translatable from collegiate to professional baseball.

“College is just a completely different game than the pros anyways, so I don’t really know how well it would even translate,” Link said. “If it worked in college, I don’t even know if that proves that it would work in the majors.”

However, the hope for Manfred is by altering these two aspects of the game, the upcoming players will develop a greater interest in the sport.

“The one that I’m most excited about, and I think may be most important for the game over the long haul, is a focus on kids,” Manfred said in a New York Times article regarding the discussed changes. “We have to have more kids, period, playing the game. We have to have more of the best athletes playing the game in order to keep our product compelling on the field.”

A compelling product however, doesn’t necessarily translate to endorsement from current baseball players at the collegiate level.

Despite this, there remains a chance that college baseball, along with Minor League Baseball, will be used as ‘guinea pigs’ to test the potential changes.

“Personally, since this is my last season, I would be against [using NCAA baseball as the guinea pig to test run these changes] because it’s how I’ve grown up playing the game,” Bien said. “I think trying it in the minors will be better because it’s closer to professional baseball, those guys are going to eventually be playing in the big leagues.”

Certainly players at the collegiate level have expressed their displeasure for the changes. However, if it attracts more fans, it’s always going to be something that baseball considers.

“I think any type of changes that are made, if it’s fan-friendly and it’s best for the fans, that’s kind of what they’re leaning toward now more than anything else,” said BG head baseball coach Danny Schmitz. “It could be a good thing. I guess only time will tell.”

Bien is worried that the array of changes could potentially open a “Pandora’s box,” especially attempting to regulate the new rules.

Whether players don’t welcome the changes, or feel as though it hurts the tradition of baseball, the league seems to have its mind set on implementing a variety of changes. These are changes that players across every level must adjust to.

“We’ll have to get through some bumps in the road, but it’ll be interesting to see how it goes,” Schmitz said. “You don’t want to erase the history because [baseball] is a great game, but if it makes the game better, I think we’re all for it.”