5-at-10: MLB rule changes and thoughts, Baseball playoff chase and Braves need, Titans woes

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So it’s a Wednesday. Yay. Better than Tuesday and much, much better than Monday.

It’s also the day for all of us to take a deep breath after a dizzying Sunday of NFL football action.

That means we can take a moment to seriously analyze the upcoming MLB rule changes. We’ve discussed them, of course, and in recent years have mentioned them in wistful or anxious terms.

But now they’re coming, whether they like it or not, and we have to buckle up.

Before we get there, let’s examine some of the post-COVID MLB changes and our thoughts.

Expanding the playoffs to six teams in each league: What honestly not to like. Once you start adding wilds, six seems better than five, and I like the fact that the 2-seed deserves a comeback too. And with the exception of postseason football — which is at the end of a grueling physical grind that makes extra rest priceless — a reunion in the “er” months for baseball teams (ie, proper rotations) is huge.

Universal DH: The traditionalist in me thought I hated that. Honestly, I like it a lot better than I expected. Does it take some of the management tactics out of the game? Yes, but when guys like Brian “The Snit” Snitker tend to overmanage or “trust their gut” and then act dismissive in postgame interviews, what’s wrong with that?

Hill Visit Restrictions: That Was A Home Run, Right? Who a) knows someone who’s ever mentioned, “Man, I miss those four-minute delays when the pitching coach would scoot to the mound to remind the middle assist in the sixth inning of a 9-2 game that this guy doesn’t go down and away like a nasty glider;’ and b) even noticed there’s a limit? (Two side questions: First, Sashay, friend or foe? Second, has there ever been a thug who even really enjoyed the “wicked slide down and away”? Discuss.)

Let’s take a look at the upcoming rule changes for MLB.

> The pitch clock. Ah, the 15-second clock between pitches — for hitters and pitchers, mind you — will be added to the big leagues next season. There will be 20 seconds between pitches with runners. It will feel strange, especially in the beginning, and there are certain launchers who struggle with it more than others. (Check out Kenley Jansen, who ranks second among all empty-base pitchers this year by going more than 25 seconds between pitches. With runners on base, Jansen is the slowest-working pitcher at 31.5 seconds between deliveries in baseball.)

But even for those of us who are wondering how much a pitch clock really affects time, well, it’s hard to argue with math.

In 2021 (pre-pitch clock) for minor leagues, games lasted an average of 3 hours and 4 minutes in 2021 and this season an average of 2:38 with the clock. Yes, this number surprised me.

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In fact, The Athletic’s brilliant Jayson Stark even charted the time differences between MLB and Triple A last Wednesday, noting that Triple A has a 14-second pitch clock. The numbers will surprise you.

MLB: 14 games, 3:00 avg, seven games over three hours, one game under 2:40;

Triple A: 13 games, 2:44 avg, two games over three hours, seven games under 2:40.

This adjustment will also be odd for the batsmen, who need to be in the box and ready by the 8-second mark. And the hitter can only fold once per plate appearance – Nomar Garciaparra is crying somewhere – and pitchers can only throw to bases twice per at-bat (thrown on a base a third time is an obstacle if the runner isn’t picked up) . , which leads us to.

> Bigger bases and much, much more value on the stolen base. The numbers will make your hair fly and get ready because running will be cool again.

Bases and pitching rules in the minors have caused an average of 2.83 minor steal attempts this year. For the bigs, that number is 1.36 tries per game.

How about this stat: The MLB leader in steals has 34; The Texas Rangers have eight minor leagues with 32 or more steals this season.

Dizziness. (And while we’re here, Braves Brass has a chuckle as Ronald Acuña, Ozzie Albies, Michael Harris and even Dansby Swanson all stole at least 30 bases. And if he stays healthy and doesn’t let the fastball high bother him, Acuña could be a 40-40 guy or even threaten to be a 50-50 guy.)

> And the big one, the ban on displacement.

So basically I hate this idea. Regulating organic change and strategy in sport is a delicate endeavor. Are we saying the Warriors are too good and hitting too many teams with too many that teams can only attempt 25 3s per game?

Will we limit the number of blitzes allowed per half because defense slows down the offense in modern football?

If hockey scores go down, will there be a period per game when the goaltender is not allowed to wear pads? (Well, that would cheer up some scoring buddies.)

So, since MLB batters can’t aim the ball the other way — and MLB teams covet homers somewhere they don’t want MLB batters trying to kick a ball across field — becomes a strategic shift banned from kets.

Each team must have two infielders on each side of the second, and everyone must have their feet in the dirt.

Well, here we bet there will be some other issues, at least to begin with.

Many of these pull hitters will see two-man outfields. Take dead-pull leftist Matt Olson as an example.

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Olson gets to the plate and the left fielder sprints to the hole in short right field where the displaced infielder normally plays.

The right fielder will drop slightly and the center fielder will move about 20 feet to the left.

Matt Olson, who couldn’t hit or bat a ground ball through a bare left side of infield, won’t easily be able to lift a ball and shoot into the left field corner either. Especially with the pitching plan taking this shift into account.

Also, the differences won’t be that extreme, because even after the letters of the new rule, players won’t be put back in the traditional positions. Against Olson, the opposing shortstop will be one step to the left of second and the second baseman will be deep in the hole.


Current chapter

Wow, that got wordy, but it needed to be discussed.

It also reminded me that with a little less than two weeks left in the season, we need a refresher on where we sit in the MLB chases.

The Dodgers and Astros have won the West Divisions in every league.

The Mets (95-55) and Braves (93-55) top the losing column, but the Braves are a game behind in NL East. Everyone has secured a spot in the postseason.

The Yankees (despite a free fall since early August), the Cardinals and the Guardians lead the other divisions. Side note: I’m still not used to saying “Cleveland Guardians” to be honest. Side note: If Disney acquires the rights to Major League, do they have to put a disclaimer at the beginning of this classic sports comedy that it was culturally inappropriate? Asks for a few million friends.)

The current wildcard leaders are the Blue Jays, Rays and Mariners in the AL and the Braves, Padres and Phillies in the NL.

And while there are some intriguing Joker storylines, the biggest thing for all of us in the heart of Brave country is the chase to the east.

Atlanta has 14 games left; New York has 12. But that one game separating these two teams couldn’t be more important.

To that end, if the season ends today, the Braves are the 4 seed, which aligns them in a three-game set in St. Louis. This isn’t a dream match in a crazy home field for the Cards.

Win that series, get the rested Mets with their rotation set, which means at least double doses of Scherzer and deGrom in a seven-game series.

Win that streak and it’s like the Dodgers.

Take the East in comparison, and let the Mets face that gauntlet.

Welcome to the “uh” months.

Local NFL Dilemma

We know the Falcons are bad. Like “should we fill up” bad.

But are the Titans really as bad as the Bills made them look?

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It’s a fair question that resonates across many angles.

Is Ryan Tannehill a top 10 QB in this league? Is he in the top 20 then?

And if he’s anywhere from 10 to 20, how can you expect him to be consistently productive when his best target is a freshman from Arkansas?

Is Derrick Henry a guy who can be the best offensive player on a Super Bowl team? Did you know that Shawn Alexander was the last leading NFL rusher to lead his team to the Super Bowl in 2005?

Yes, the game has changed a bit since then.

And without AJ Brown calling for a doubles team, that road seems even more difficult.

this and that

— To no surprise, the latest social media trend of cooking chicken in NyQuil is being frowned upon by the FDA. I like to cook and have gotten better at it. And never during that time did I think, “Hey, this dish needs some zing. Let’s see what I have in the medicine cabinet.”

– While the realignment backlash has the Pac-12 and Big 12 vying for new signings, the new kid on the block could provide a lifeline in bidding for media rights. (Side note: New Edition and NKOTB were two of the best boy bands of all time. Discuss.) If Amazon is bidding for the broadcast rights to any of these leagues — or any of the others in the future — hello, viability.

– You know the rules. Here’s Paschall on UT’s goals to stem Florida QB Anthony Richardson.

— The President’s Cup takes place this weekend when the best golfers in the USA compete against a team of international players. The US should cruise.

— I’m still trying to see who’s left in the Eliminator. Will update tomorrow. It is not much.

Today’s questions

So Wednesday starts like this:

Which new MLB rule is the best? Which is your least favorite?

Which team will win the NL East?

Which boy band was the best?

Which “local” NFL team will end up with a better record, the Falcons or the Titans?

Answer some hows, ask some hows.

As for today, September 21, let’s review.

On this day 100 years ago, Warren G. Harding signed a resolution creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and it’s been going smoothly ever since. (Side question: Warren G Harding is among the most memorable US Presidents of all time, right? Heck, he’s not even the most famous Warren G.)

The two personal favorites Stephen King (75) and Bill Murray (72) are celebrating their birthdays today. I think we did rushmores on everyone.

It’s also the last full day of summer. Sigh.

Rushmore from ‘Summer’ and be creative.

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