Major League Baseball is focused on increasing the pace of play and shortening the length of games entering the 2015 season, but Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz isn't taking too kindly to the initiative.
Via 95.7 The Game, MLB recently announced several rule changes meant to speed things up:
Per ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes, Big Papi took issue with the notion that batters must always have at least one foot in the batter's box.
"It seems like every rule goes in the pitcher's favor. After a pitch, you got to stay in the box? One foot? I call that b------t," Ortiz said.
The 39-year-old veteran is well known for his post-pitch routine of stepping out, spitting into his batting glove and readjusting before stepping back into the box. According to Edes, Ortiz claims there is a method to his perceived madness:
When you come out of the box, they don't understand you're thinking about what the [pitcher] is trying to do. This is not like, you go to the plate with an empty mind. No, no, no. When you see a guy, after a pitch, coming out of the box, he's not just doing it. Our minds are speeding up.
I saw one pitch, I come out, I'm thinking, "What is this guy going to try to do to me next?" I'm not walking around just because there are cameras all over the place and I want my buddies back home to see me and this and that. It doesn't go that way.
When you force a hitter to do that, 70 percent you're out, because you don't have time to think. And the only time you have to think about things is that time. So, I don't know how this baseball game is going to end up.
Per ESPN.com, flagrant violators of the pace-of-play rules could be fined up to $500 at a time.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports believes the rule was implemented with Ortiz in mind:
Red Sox star David Ortiz ripped baseball's new pace-of-play provisions Wednesday, which was not altogether surprising, considering MLB emphasizing the edict that requires hitters to keep one foot in the batter's box might as well be called the David Ortiz Rule. He is the prince of procrastination, a malingerer worthy of comparison to Mike Hargrove and Nomar Garciaparra, the patron saints of between-pitch futzing around.
Despite the possible penalties, Ortiz doesn't intend to change the manner in which he operates:
Well, I might run out of money. I'm serious. I'm not going to change my game. I don't care what they say. My game, it's not like I go around and do all kinds of stupid s--t. But I have to take my time and think about what that [pitcher] is going to do next. I'm pretty sure every single hitter at this level is on the same page.
If most hitters are in agreement as Ortiz suggests, then it is difficult to imagine MLB's pace-of-play initiative gaining much traction.
Wealthy players like Ortiz may be willing to take a hit to the wallet in order to maintain their on-field success. While the new system is worth trying in 2015, harsher in-game penalties may have to be considered if Big Papi and others don't comply.
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