NEW YORK--Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced today that, in a further attempt to speed up games, the league would institute a new “automatic strikeout” rule. The decision was partly necessitated by the lack of impact of the automatic intentional walk rule implemented in the offseaon.
Like the intentional walk rule, teams that wish to strike out batters may send a signal from the dugout to the umpire, thereby avoiding time-consuming pitches.
Manfred believes the rule will speed up games considerably.
“Based on our calculations this could shave up to two hours off average game time,” Manfred said. “It solves many problems all at once: pitchers taking too much time between pitches, batters leaving the batter’s box, too many mound visits, too many pitching changes, the list goes on. Now, if you wanna treat the whole family to a Sunday afternoon at the ol' ball yard, you'll be in and out of there in half an hour.”
Manfred admitted that the automatic intentional walk rule did not have the impact he had hoped.
“The automatic intentional walk thing has been kind of a bust,” Manfred said. “Mostly because intentional walks are a relatively rare part of the game. So I thought, why not apply this logic to something that happens with a higher frequency? And then it hit me: automatic strikeouts. Why didn't we think of this years ago?”
Under the new rule, teams would be allowed a maximum of 25 automatic strikeouts per game and a minimum of 10. This would ensure that teams have the opportunity to score and the games don’t go on forever.
So far, the idea has been met with a muted reaction from players and coaches. While many applaud Manfred’s initiative in speeding up the games, there is concern that the new rule is too much change too fast.
“It’s an interesting idea but I think it’s a little radical,” said Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell. “It’s going to change everything about the way the game is managed and the way hitters and pitchers are scouted. Most importantly, after really examining this change from every possible angle and studying all the data and projections, I’ve concluded that it’s a little unfair to hitters.”
Farrell is not alone in that conclusion. Several hitters around the league have complained that the new rule is unfairly weighed in favor of pitchers, and are calling on the commissioner to make changes to balance things out.
“This rule needs to be changed so its more balanced,” said Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista. “Right now it favors the pitchers, in that they’ll be able strike out any batter they want all game long without even throwing any pitches. The more I turn this over in my head, the worser it is.”
The players’ complaints have not fallen on deaf ears. Commissioner Manfred insists that he will work with both pitchers and hitters to make the rule as balanced and as possible. The rule is not scheduled to be implemented until later in the season.
“We hear their voices and are taking their complaints into consideration,” Manfred said. “One change we’re considering is that when one team runs out of automatic strikeouts, the remaining batters who will actually be pitched to can signal for an automatic home run! Boom! Problem solved. Legacy sealed. Suck it, Fay Vincent.”
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