We are now just underway into the Robert Manfred Jr. era of Major League Baseball. With Bud Selig having now officially been replaced as Commissioner of the sport, a new generation is ushered in. With that new generation, Manfred made waves over the weekend by saying that he would look to make tweaks to the game of baseball. One of which was in potentially banning the defensive shift.
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Manfred contended that the competitive advantage gained by teams imposing a shift has changed the landscape of the game. Essentially arguing that a shift defies the way in which the game was meant to be played. With that train of thought in mind, another question is begged. Is banning the shift really the root of the issue Robert Manfred is looking at?
Baseball is a thinking man’s sport. Analytics surrounding the game of baseball, have helped to push other sports and industries forward significantly. Because of the amount of people devoted towards getting the most out of their players and teams, baseball continues to be one of the most living sports on the planet today. So, if each step forward is met with hesitation, what does the game have to gain?
When a team decides to put each infielder on the right side as David Ortiz steps to the plate, and Ortiz decides against bunting down the left field line, who has the biggest problem? Is it Ortiz for not wanting a guaranteed base hit? Is it the infield for suggesting they are willing to trade for a lesser negative? Or is it baseball because things don’t look or play out as they should?
No matter what the situation is, baseball is a sport that too many brilliant people are involved in. Analytics will continue to stay one step ahead of the game, and the sport will continue to grow on its own. As it stands right now, it would appear Robert Manfred is only in agreement with that growth if it falls between the generally accepted norms of the sport.
Maybe a ban of defensive shifts signifies nothing. Who knows if shifts going away would just spark the next upgrade to the game. With that in mind though, should each advancement be a forced by-product of being told you cannot do something and find a counter, or should it be through the acceptance of growth as a whole?
At this point, nothing appears imminently set in stone, or to be immediately changed. Prior to anything happening however, what are your thoughts? Should change be met with resistance or acceptance? And to what extent?