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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Kaz's Korner

Proposed new MLB rules to be tested by Minor Leagues


Last updated 3/16/2021 at 8:11pm

Major League Baseball has been trying to speed up the game for the past few decades, but unfortunately with very little success.

Last year’s shortened 60-game season saw a couple of new ideas put into practice, but received mixed evaluations from various baseball people who have been around the game for decades.

Personally, I really liked the idea of having designated hitters used in both the American League (where it has been a fixture for nearly 50 years) and the National League, where it barely was even a thought since the days of the game’s inventor, Abner Doubleday.

What the designated hitter does mostly is eliminate the “automatic out” when the pitcher comes to the plate. It also takes more time for the pitcher to dawdle en route to home plate and saunter back to the dugout after striking out.

And when the leadoff batter follows, he generally takes a strike after putting resin on his bat handle just to give the pitcher more time to catch his breath. The DH also makes the pitcher work much harder than when he’s facing his opposing moundsman. The DH in the National League was scratched for the upcoming 2021 season, which begins in about three weeks.

Two ideas that will be around this year is starting an extra-inning game with a base runner on second. This has proved to shorten these tied games that oftentimes have turned into marathons going into the wee hours of the next day. The longest game last season was 13 innings, with most games decided by the 10th inning.

The other new rule being held over this season is that a relief pitcher must face at least three batters after taking over the pitching chores.

At last week’s MLB rules committee meeting, a couple of new ideas were agreed to be tried for 2021, but only in the minor leagues.

Old time dyed-in-wool baseball people just don’t like seeing the second baseman playing in short right field when a left-handed pull hitter comes to the plate, with the shortstop moving over where the second baseman normally plays and the third baseman playing just to the left-side of the second-base bag.

Major League Baseball will limit defensive positioning of all Class AA affiliates this season, according to an article appearing in Friday’s Houston Chronicle, part of an array of experimental rule changes headed to all levels of minor league baseball.

In Class AA, teams must have minimum of four players on the infield, and all must have both feet at least “on the front of the outer boundary of the infield dirt.” This would not only eliminate defensive shifts, but also would eliminate a four-man outfield.

The league will monitor the results of this rule during the first half of the minor league season. Depending on its research, the second half of the season may feature a mandate that at least two infielders are positioned entirely on each side of second base, the article added.

“These restrictions on defensive positioning are intended to increase the batting average on balls in play,” the league said in a statement.

All of the experimental rules introduced at last week’s meeting are targeted at either increasing action, speeding up the pace of play or raising the batting average on balls in play.

Pitchers at all Class A affiliates will be limited to two pickoff moves per plate appearance while a runner is on base. In my opinion, being a pitcher during most of my early adult life, I would say this rule needs to be put in the trash bin.

A pitcher doesn’t need to throw over to first base UNLESS the runner on first has a reputation of being a good base-stealer. All that base-runner would have to do is draw two throws and then increase his lead to 15 feet and walk to second with a stolen base.

And, last but not least, MLB wants to increase the size of bases at Class AAA from 15 inches to 18 inches in an effort to avoid collisions. I certainly don’t know how this change will make the game any safer!!!

KWICKIES…Congrats are in order for Beaumont United for winning the Class 5A State Basketball tournament last week by nipping Dallas Kimball 71-70 in overtime and finishing the 2020-21 high school basketball season undefeated with a 31-0 record. The last BISD team to win a state championship undefeated was the Beaumont Ozen team in 2001 with a 36-0 record, led by future NBA star Kendrick Perkins.

After upsetting third-seeded Sam Houston State 70-69 in the quarterfinals of last weekend’s Southland Conference Men’s Tournament, the Lamar Cards were eliminated by eventual SLC champion Abilene Christian, who will meet the third-seeded Texas Longhorns Saturday in a game tipping off at 8:50 p.m. on truTV. It was the second straight SLC championship for No. 14-seeded Abilene Christian.

The Lamar Cardinal football team traveled to Lake Charles Saturday afternoon for a huge Southland Conference rivalry match against McNeese State. The Redbirds, seeking their first football victory in more than a year, sent the game into overtime in the fourth period and blocked an extra point in the overtime to present Head Coach Blane Morgan with his first collegiate victory, 27-26.

Justin Thomas rallied Sunday on the final day of The Players Championship to defeat popular Lee Westwood by a single stroke. It marked the second time in two weeks that Westwood began the final round as the leader and failed to come up with the victory. However, Westwood’s two runners-up reward was probably a record--$1,013,700 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and Sunday’s $1,635,000—for not winning a tournament. Thomas, who shot 68 on Sunday’s final round compared to Westwood’s 72, pocketed a check for $2,700,000.

Perhaps the worst-kept secret in the NFL was the announced retirement of New Orleans Hall-of-Fame-to-be quarterback Drew Brees last weekend. Brees, the NFL’s leader in career completions and yards passing, decided to retire after 20 NFL seasons, 15 at New Orleans. He is the all-time leader in passing with 80,358 yards which could very well be threatened next season by 44-year-old Tom Brady who has 79, 204 career yards passing.

JUST BETWEEN US…The 2021 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament bracket is set for the 68 teams either earning a spot or being named by the selection committee last Sunday night. Action begins tomorrow with four games on tap, with the winner’s rounding out the top 64 teams in the nation. First-round games begin Friday and Saturday and will be televised on truTV, CBS, TNT and TBS. Teams from the Lone Star State include No. 1-seeded Baylor, No. 2 University of Houston, No. 3 Texas, No. 6 Texas Tech, No. 13 North Texas, No. 14 Abilene Christian and No. 16 Texas Southern.


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