By JED WEISBERGER
The Email from Minor League Baseball publicist Jeff Lantz hit my phone at 12:32 p.m. this past Wednesday.
I had just sat down to lunch with a friend not far from my Central Jersey office.
“Minor League Baseball Announces Pace of Play Regulations for 2018,” was the subject matter. By the time I was done reading what was in the electronic communication, my General Tso’s Chicken tasted a lot less delectable than when I started.
We really have no issue with limiting mound visits – eight is plenty in the upper minors – nor is there much of an objection to pitches being thrown in 15 seconds if there are no runners on base.
There is even a provision if there is a “cross up” on signs between a catcher and a pitcher after the allowed mound visits are exhausted. The rule that made my sweet-and-sour sauce turn totally tart has to do with phantom scoring decisions.
Here is where whoever came up with the piece of junk – and that is what it is – that is “crossing up’’ the minors in 2018 – can take it and firmly place it totally in the youth leagues it belongs, if they want it.
At any MiLB game that goes into extra innings, from Lancaster, Calif., to Portland, ME, at every level, that extra inning will start with a runner on second base. This nonsense is supposed to save time.
To begin with, every full-season MiLB team plays in maybe eight or nine extra-inning games in what is, on average, a 140-game season. There was no need for this.
In addition, how the scoring will go for this runner, who will be the player who made the last out in the previous inning, goes against all the tenets in scoring the game and shows how ludicrous this is.
To satisfy Rule 9.16, which governs these situations, the runner placed on second to start each extra inning will be scored as “having reached on a fielding error,’’ but no error will actually be charged.
So MiLB now has a rule stating a runner reaches base on a non-existent error that won’t be charged. This is to protect the ERAs of the pitchers in these innings, but, and we have covered professional baseball for four decades, seems to be a major contradiction in terms.
Say these runners are stranded, and the game goes 17 innings, this will be done eight times per team, recording a lot of errors and not charging them.
Whoever dreamed this up is trying too hard, is quite misguided or came to this conclusion after imbibing several Jack Daniels muddled. That is what this rule is – muddled and befuddled.
What an honor for a batter who failed the inning before? He gets to get on base – in scoring position – on a phantom fielding error to save time in a game between, say, Beloit and Cedar Rapids. There is absolutely no making sense of any of it.
Jeff, you were just the messenger in this, but, my man, this ridiculous decision will sour a lot more in MiLB this coming season than my lunch last Wednesday.