2020 A Turning Point For The MLBJake Cooper | 10 Sep 2020
Given the direction the MLB’s 2020 rulebook appears to be headed in, the term “the future just isn’t what it used to be” tends to spring to mind.
What the latest new tendencies also manage to call to mind are memories of a post-strike 1990s era – a particularly precarious period in the history of Major League Baseball. Such was the nature of an era that marked the sudden appearance of a highly noticeable square box right in front of the catcher – a square box that practically framed the strike zone.
Networks would go on to justify the box as an inclusion that would ultimately help viewers to better identify the exact location of the ball at any given time. And perhaps most important of all, to determine for themselves whether or not a pitched ball qualified as a strike.
The viewers were happy, the networks were happy – everybody appeared perfectly chuffed with the appearance of the box. Everybody but the umpires, who now feared even more of a backlash from fans every time their umpiring decisions failed to please both sides of the fan-pitch.
Which was, of course, never.
And the reason for this seemingly random trip down memory lane? History repeating itself – as has obviously been its want since forever.
Since the umpires of the 1990s eventually realised their voices to have been cries in an MLB wilderness, resulting in the rise of the tech-empowered television umpire, a new wave of a “testing of the rulebook waters” just now hitting the MLB’s shores isn’t exactly being met by the same push-back as that witnessed nearly 3 decades ago.
And what current largely unopposed so-called trial balloons being sent up into the air of opinion may very well be suggesting, is that – for better or for worse, all depending on who you ask - 2020 could be the year that sees baseball eventually changed beyond recognition.
The Time Is Right
When you really think about it, there’s nothing quite as effective a ruse or cover for a complete MLB reinvention as a health crisis of catastrophic proportions. Those things believed to be privy to holding the sport back from becoming what the drivers of the covered-up change consider to be the best version of itself, can now be addressed with more ease and a flying-under-the-radar that what has ever before seemed possible.
As for whether for better or for worse, the answer remains the same. It all depends on who you ask.