A new commissioner has finally been named and I will be very interested to learn how the change of the guard will affect the game.
In many ways, baseball is at a crossroads.
While the game has never been more popular, as evidenced by record crowds and escalating television contracts, it seems that leaders can't help but tinker with it lately. They've introduced expanded instant replay that changes the flow of nearly every game and impacts the outcome of many. There has been a lot of talk lately about the potential adoption of the designated hitter in the National League and an obsession with shortening games doesn't seem likely to go away.
New commissioner Rob Manfred was a top lieutenant to outgoing commissioner bud Seilig. So it seems there is some assumption that he'll represent the status quo with no radical changes to the game. But what does that mean?
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Instant replay has already been introduced and the system seems to be terribly flawed. It is applied inconsistently, there are too many delays in games and the outcome seems to too often contradict what fans think they see in instant replays.
It can stay as it currently exists. Instant replay will have to be expanded, contracted or tweaked to at least make it more consistent.
The designated hitter question isn't really one that can be ignored, either. With the expansion of instant replay in recent years, there has been a lot of talk about making the rules consistent between baseball's two leagues.
With the MLB Players Association constantly pushing for expansion to produce more high-paying jobs for veterans, it seems not to matter how dearly National League fans and baseball traditionalists value the more pure form of the game.
I know I will be greatly turned off if the strategic implications of having the pitcher bat, the need for a deeper and more versatile roster and the history of the game are cast off as part of a money grab by players or a cheap stunt by owners to increase the amount of offense in games.
I guess it's out of the fans' hands and all we can do is wait to see what happens.