5 Rules/Policies MLB Needs to Change ASAP

John Altamura@@JohnAltamuraBRContributor IIMay 17, 2012

5 Rules/Policies MLB Needs to Change ASAP

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    The MLB Playing Rules Committee announced last week that it has approved a proposal that would eliminate the fake-to-third and throw-to-first move loathed by many fans.

    Although the players' union vetoed the proposal for this season, there is still a chance the proposal will be ratified down the line by both sides.

    Here are five rules and/or polices MLB should consider changing sometime in the not-so-distant future.

3rd-to-1st Pickoff Rule

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    It was reported in several media outlets last week including SI.com that the MLB Playing Rules Committee has approved a proposal eliminating the fake-third-to-first pickoff play. Under the new proposal, any pitcher who attempts the move while on the rubber would be charged with a balk.

    The proposal has the backing of MLB executives and umpires but was vetoed by the players' union for ratification this season. Union officials would like to hold more discussions before deciding on eliminating the play.

    Some players seem in favor of eliminating the play.

    "I think they should get rid of it," Yankees reliever Boone Logan said in an SI.com article. "Us lefties can't do that. If we do, they call a balk."

    MLB owners can implement the change after a one-year wait. It remains to be seen whether or not all players will agree with Logan's position on the rule.

Jersey Sponsorships

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    Could MLB soon follow the precedent set overseas by professional soccer and basketball clubs and allow their franchises to accept jersey sponsorships?

    According to Lance Kinney, an associate professor of advertising and public relations at the University of Alabama— there is strong possibility professional sports leagues, including MLB could allow their franchises to accept jersey sponsorships.

    "In the American sporting leagues, it is the last resource that has yet to be tapped," Kinney said in the AL.com article.

    "Teams are maxed out in every other sponsorship category that they have.  They'll have a soft drink sponsor, a sport drink sponsor, they may well have a financial sponsor, a cell service sponsor, so they're always looking for new categories and new real estate."

    Jersey sponsorships could provide a much needed financial boost for small-market clubs such as the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City Royals. However, a corporate logo next the iconic New York Yankees' interlocked NY may irk baseball purists.

    A combination of both may be the answer. Limited jersey sponsorships would help cash-strapped franchises and satisfy baseball purists who would undoubtedly oppose the change.  

    Kinney was interviewed in depth by Chris Pow of AL.com and his story can be found here.

Home-Field Advantage Awarded to the Winner of the All-Star Game

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    One rule MLB should consider changing is awarding home-field advantage to the team that wins the All-Star Game. 

    "I'm not a huge fan, to be honest, of the home field being decided by the All-Star Game," said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko in a USATODAY.com article after last year's mid-summer classic. "It's weird that somebody who is on a last-place team right now could have an effect on that in this game."

    The home-field advantage rule was initially adopted by MLB in 2003 on a two-year interim basis. The rule was extended twice and formally adopted by the league in 2006. The main purpose of the rule was to add competitiveness to the game and to avoid a repeat of the 2002 classic which ended in a 7-7 tie.

    The new format has not prevented stars from skipping the game. It would make logical sense that the team with the best record in MLB during the regular season be granted home-field advantage throughout the playoffs—including the World Series.

Expanded Replay

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    One policy that should be expanded is the use of instant replay. MLB was unable to come to an agreement for this season on expanding replay to cover trapped balls, fair-or-foul rulings and fan interference.

    "We weren't able to come up with an acceptable set of agreements between the three parties," MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred told The Associated Press as reported by USATODAY.com. "We hope we'll be able to do it in time for the 2013 season."

    Ian Casselberry, the MLB lead blogger for Bleacher Report, used the Tim Welke blown call from a Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers game earlier this month as a prime example of why replay should be expanded. In the game, Welke erroneously called Jerry Hairston Jr. out when video replay clearly showed Rockies first baseman Todd Helton’s foot was off the bag.    

    Ultimately, MLB should be in the business of getting the call right on the field. If that requires expanding replay, then so be it.

One Way or Another: Not Both

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    It's time for MLB to either adopt the DH rule for both leagues or get rid of it altogether.

    The DH has been around for 38 years and has had its share of opponents and proponents. Some will say the rule gives players who are no longer viable defensively the ability to prolong their careers—case in point Edgar Martinez. Others feel the rule creates an offensive imbalance between both leagues. Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum recently told Dan McGrath of the Chicago Sun-Times his feelings on the rule.

    ‘‘I like having it both ways,’’ Sveum said in the Chicago Sun-Times article. ‘‘When I was coming up, you had guys like Paul Molitor, Edgar Martinez and Dave Winfield sticking around to hit for several years after they could no longer play in the field. It was good for the fans to be able to see them. It was good for baseball.’’

    Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson thinks if they standardize the rule they should allow pitchers to hit.

    ‘‘In the American League, we can’t hit, bunt, run the bases . . . at times, you’re just sitting there and you feel like the game is out of your hands," he said to the Chicago Sun-Times.