Singles were already available

The shift was never the problem.

The shift was never the problem.
Illustration: Shutterstock

Negotiations in MLB didn’t really get any better yesterday. There was buzz that the players gave up even more in their quest to get the luxury tax threshold raised, even though they still haven’t really asked for any guarantee that more than a few teams would even approach it. This was met with more middle fingers and moons from the owners, who seem like they kind of want to just declare an impasse. But that’s the fight in the future, assuming the players have much fight left (debatable, despite their rhetoric).


The interesting nugget was that in yet another hail mary to get the owners to be anything more than a pimple on the ass of life, the players have pretty much acquiesced to every rule change the owners wanted. Pitch clock, bigger bases, and banning the shift.

The first two, that’s fine. The game certainly needs to move faster, and having a pitch clock — especially with men on base — actually might be an end-around to deal with baseball’s velocity problem. If a pitcher can’t rest for a minute or two after every pitch to reload fully for the next one, then he might not be able to consistently throw 102 MPH for every pitch. It’s certainly worth seeing. Bigger bases are supposed to enhance the ability to steal bases, making the tag harder and giving runners just those extra fractions of a second they might need. Again, sure. Can’t really hurt to experiment. Getting motion on the basepaths is another goal.

But banning the shift….this is where the problems arise. Hitters, especially left-handed ones, have been barking about this for years. But the problem is that banning the shift doesn’t really change a hitters’ approach. It will reward them for the blinkered approach they’ve had that caused the shift in the first place. The shift was a natural evolution of strategy, which should be counterbalanced by another.

It’s not allowing the game to naturally equalize itself. Banning the shift will allow left-handed pull hitters to deposit line-drives over the head of second basemen, which probably will cause more singles, more runners, more action. Except those singles were already on offer on the left side of the field. Had hitters taken the easy base hits where the shortstop used to be, the shift would have gone away anyway because teams would have to defend all parts of the field.

Banning the shift, and allowing hitters to maintain the pull-and-lift approach over all is not going to solve the strikeout problem, or the homer problem, which leads to the lack-of-action problem baseball has. Letting hitters spray to all fields, and in fact forcing them to, would have.

We’ve read and listened to hitters bitch and moan that they could make solid contact to right field or up the middle and their bottomless frustration at seeing a misplaced third-baseman or shortstop in those spots. Moving those fielders off those spots will open up more singles. But again, those were there already. You’re not changing behavior or strategy here.


Hitters have it tough. They face perhaps too powerful velocity and devilish breaking pitches from pitchers who probably still are applying god knows what to the ball to get unnatural spin. But this is just an overstep.

Thankfully it’ll be a while before we have to watch any of this, because the owners aren’t going to accept anything but total surrender to get everyone back on the field to watch this wrong.


Saving grace

Shifting to hockey, and Andrei Vasilevskiy had himself a night in Chicago last night:


Igor Shesterkin may walk off with the Hart and Vezina Trophies, but until he’s got multiple rings to go with them, there’s only one King Of the Crease. And he lives in Tampa.


Gotta see this

As long as we’re being stupid, here’s Yimmi Chara for the Timbers coming up with this filth to score against LAFC.


Guys, we really shouldn’t be wasting these highlights on a Sunday. Save them for the week when more people are around, would ya?

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