New Rules for 2020 for MLB

There have been some new rules in MLB this year. I don’t argue much because of the situation. I don’t see a problem with funky rules this year because of the sixty game regular season. I’m happy they are playing because it gives us some normality…a little we can all hold on to.

The rules were set for just this year because of what is going on but I know that Manfred sometimes wants to change for the sake of change…I guess to leave his mark… The rules are italicized in bold below and my responses are below each one. I’m sure some of you will disagree with me and that is fine…who ever reads this is probably passionate about the game…all opinions are welcomed.

Now to the rules…

1: Universal DH (No need for the official wording in this) – Ok all of you American League fans… I know that most of you like it and that is fine. I like it also…for the American League. Personally I don’t want to see this go past this year for the NL. I don’t understand why it’s so bad for the leagues to be different. I like the leagues different…at one time they had two sets of umpires…one for the AL and one for the NL… The reasons for and against doesn’t change but I have a feeling Manfred will try to pass this one. This one I don’t want to see change. I like ball parks all different and the leagues different…it separates baseball from the rigid normality of the other major sports…It’s ok to be different MLB.

2: Wet Rag- Pitchers will be permitted to carry a small wet rag in their back pocket to be used for moisture in lieu of licking their fingers. Pitchers will not be able to access the rag while on the rubber, and they must clearly wipe the fingers of their pitching hand dry before touching the ball or the rubber. Water is the only substance that will be allowed on the rag.

I don’t see a reason why this shouldn’t be in place for ever more. I want the pitchers that have 90 mph fastballs to have decent control. Yes I know someone will try to cheat the system… hey it’s baseball…but I don’t see this as a big problem.

3: Runner on second to begin extra innings
During the regular season, every half-inning after the ninth will begin with a runner on second base. If that runner scores, the pitcher won’t be charged with an earned run.

The runner placed on second base at the start of each half-inning will be the player in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter, or a pinch-runner. However, if the player in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter is the pitcher, the runner placed on second base may be the player preceding the pitcher in the batting order. This rule will not be in place for the postseason.

Over the past five years, 8.26% of all regular-season games have gone to extra innings. There were 208 extra-innings games in the 2019 regular season, counting for 8.56% of all games.

I thought this was a joke when I saw this rule… even for only this year.  I’ll quote Clayton Kershaw…”No, it’s not great, it’s Mickey Mouse garbage that belongs in the minor leagues and ONLY the minor leagues.” Is this really worth it for only 8.56% of the games? It’s not baseball and there should not be a valid reason to keep this. This reminds me of wiffle ball we played while we were younger…what’s next MLB? Ghost runners?

They say baseball is too long…have you ever watched a NFL game? They also can last 3 hours or more. Try watching the NBA in the last 2 mintues…you can raise a family in the time it takes them to finish it. This is the rule I disagree with the most…

4: Suspended games
If weather forces a game to be cut short before it is official, it will be continued at a later date rather than started from scratch.

I don’t mind this one at all… it makes sense to me. The famous game that comes to my mind is the George Brett pine tar game…they started that game when it ended…of course weather had nothing to do with that one.

5: Position players pitching
There will be no restrictions on position players pitching in 2020.

A rule change installed this past offseason would have required teams to designate every player on the active roster as either a pitcher or a position player, and position players would have been unable to pitch unless it was extra innings, their team was ahead or trailing by more than six runs, or they had qualified for the “two-way” designation. That rule won’t be in place during the 2020 season.

I think this should stand. If the player is alright with pitching under emergencies why not let him? If he is ok with it I don’t see a problem. Personally I like seeing some position player pitch…some like Russell Martin did really well. Yes they could get hurt but the player either says yes or no.

Ok this is just my two cents but the recent intentional walk rule. Why make it automatic and the batter go to first? I have seen pitchers make wild throws and games were decided because of it. I have seen pitchers fool the batter into thinking it was an intentional walk and strike them on a 3-2 count…and batters lean over and hit the ball…and who can forget the A’s fooling Johnny Bench with a fake intentional walk in the World Series?  This one doesn’t have anything to do with this year but I wanted to get it in.

MLB Players who had the “Yips”

Yips: The yips is the loss of fine motor skills in athletes. The condition occurs suddenly and without apparent explanation, usually in mature athletes with years of experience. … The condition is also experienced by snooker players, bowlers in cricket and pitchers in baseball.

The Yips can come at any time. When Atlanta’s then-manager Bobby Cox was watching his team play the Mets. The Mets catcher Mackey Sasser had problems just throwing the ball back to the pitcher. Cox turned and told his second baseman Mark Lemke that anyone on the field is just one bad throw away from having what Mackey has…Cox had seen the yips before.

It’s so hard to watch as the player totally losses his confidence. Many times players cannot pinpoint when it starts and for some they never find the cure.

I just finished a book about the 1981 Dodgers and it reminded me of Steve Sax who had a problem throwing a ball from second base to first. I thought I would find some more players who had problems. Some lasted just a little while while others it took their career.

It has affected pitchers significantly. They lose the ability to throw a strike and their career along with it.

Steve Blass – He may be the most famous case of the yips. He was a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1964 to 1974. He went from a 2.49 ERA in 1972 to a 9.85 ERA to 1973…1974 was his last year. For every 1 strikeout he had 3 walks. Balls flying to the backstop at times… Steve Blass: “I had no control over it, nor did I understand it. I would sit in my backyard 2…3…4 o’clock in the morning thinking, ‘My God, what’s happened to me? What is this? Has someone put a curse on me or something?”

He was only 31 when this happened. His stats were 100-67 with a 3.24 ERA from 1964-1972. He was 3-1 in post season with a 3.10 ERA and a World Series winner in 1971. He ended up with a 103-76 record with a 3.63 ERA.

The Yips have been called by some “Steve Blass Disease.”

Rick Ankiel – Ankiel looked like the real deal. A powerful left handed pitcher that USA Today called “the most promising young left-handed pitcher in a generation.” Tony LaRussa put it to the test and inserted the 21 year old into the 2000 NLDS against the Braves. It was painful to watch. Ankiel walked 6 men in 2.2 innings. He eventually went to the minor leagues and it didn’t get any better…in fact it got worse…but he did do something else about it. He became an outfielder and hit as many as 25 homeruns in one season. He was never as good of an outfielder as he was a pitcher though. He played until 2013…I’ve always wondered what his pitching career would have been like.

Chuck Knoblauch – After being traded to the Yankees in 1998 this second baseman’s trouble started. His errors doubled but hardly any throwing errors in 1999. In 2000 it started and his throws to first base would be wild. In fact… an errant throw sailed into the stands and hit sportscaster Keith Olbermann’s mother in the head.

He returned to second base briefly, but never regained his throwing accuracy. He was moved to the outfield and designated hitter for the remaining two years of his career, including New York’s World Series run in 2000.

Steve Sax – Steve joined the Dodgers in 1981 in the last half of the season. Steve was on the playoff roster for the World Series. His troubles started in 1983 after an error involving Andre Dawson. After that he could not throw accurately to first base. This went on for 2 months and he had over twenty errors before the All Star break. Something his dad said broke the spell.

His father told him, “One day you are going to wake up and this problem is going to be gone,” confessing that he had suffered the exact same problem in high school, but his confidence had eventually returned and he overcame it.

Six hours later John Sax died. It was the last conversation his son had with him. But buoyed by his father’s words, Sax persevered, slowly regaining his confidence over time. Baseball became fun again. Sax didn’t make a single error in the last 36 games of the season.

Years later Sax’s mom, who had known his dad since the fifth grade, told him the truth: His father never had a throwing problem. 

“He lied. He didn’t want to see me fail, so he lied,” “He bailed me out on his death bed. And it changed my life.”

Some people also call the yips from a fielder “Steve Sax Syndrome” Steve went on the play with the Dodgers, Yankees, White Sox, and A’s after this and the problem never resurfaced.

There have been other players in the MLB and many other sports to suffer from this.