America’s pastime hasn’t changed all that much since its inception over 100 years ago. But there are murmurs that things could be changing big-time in coming years. New advances in technology have been slowly changing sports behind the scenes for years, but now there are some potentially more visible ways that new tech could change baseball.
But it’s not only technology could change America’s favorite game. New changes to the rules themselves are possible as well. Let’s take a look at two of the possible changes that we could see in the MLB in coming years.
Getting Rid of the Shift
Teams typically use a shift against power-hitting left-handed batters. The idea of the shift is to defend against a hitter who looks to hit homeruns and so typically pulls the ball.
Teams have been employing shifts more and more in recent years. And the simple fact is that shifts do indeed cut down on hits. Because the infield and sometimes the outfield as well, is positioned exactly according to where a player normally hits the ball, it becomes very difficult for some hitters to get on base.
But there are unintended consequences of using a shift. It’s true that shifts cut down on singles and doubles but statistics show that homeruns and walks go up when defenses are in a shift. This could be because pitchers pitch differently when they know the defense behind them is positioned differently.
Why Get Rid of the Shift?
The main reason to stop teams from using the shift is to generate more offense and make baseball games more exciting. More base hits generally mean more interesting baseball. But more walks and homeruns could also make the sport more exciting.
There is a heated debate going on at the moment between those who want baseball to remain free with no restrictions placed upon a defense, and those who want to see more offense at any cost.
Robot umpires have been talked about for years but they are not about to be a reality. The technology isn’t ready yet and the baseball world can’t seem to agree on whether to take the human aspect of a person calling balls and strikes out of the game.
Statistics show that umpires call balls and strikes correctly about 90% of the time. So some might say its crazy to give up 10% of balls and strikes calls in order to keep the game pure. On the other hand, we’ve been playing baseball for over a century and gotten by just fine with a few missed calls here and there. So why change now?
There are a few issues to hammer out with the robot umpire technology anyway. The strike zone is a different size for every player. So the technology has to account for this and be extremely accurate for hundreds of different-sized strike zones. This may require players to wear some kind of sensor in their jerseys.
The next question is what percentage of correct calls should the robot umpires be able to achieve? Is anything over 90% worth making the switch away from human umpires?
Baseball isn’t as popular in America as it used to be. It has so much competition from football and basketball, both fast-paced sports with more scoring. So it’s no wonder that the MLB is trying to get more modern and make the sport more exciting.
It’s interesting to follow the evolution of a sport and how it survives. Baseball is such a part of America, there’s no way it’s going anywhere. But it may have to change in order to keep up.