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What if the opposing team was allowed to defend the mound against a pitching change? They could put up barbed wire and a machine gun nest, and the pitching coach would have to crawl out there on his belly to get the ball while the bullpen catcher laid down some cover fire.  
We might lose the occasional situational lefty, but we’d stop hearing about all those boring pitching changes.  
Asked by: ventboys

Answered: 10/20/2016
 Well now, I thought I wasn't going to publish any more proposed changes in this area, but that's just common sense. . . .


Here's a rules change I'd like to see, now that we have an umpire challenge rule. On plays where a runner slides hard into a bag with a tag coming, if the runner beats the ball/tag but happens to not be in actual contact with the base every single nanosecond while transferring from the front hands to the foot (or some such), he's still safe. As you once wrote (pine-tar game), one nice thing about baseball is that what you see is what you get. A double's a double, and a stolen base is a stolen base. I think hockey has a rule that runs, just because you might have six guys on the ice for a couple seconds while the lines are swapping out, doesn't mean a rule was broken. MLB needs a similar rule here. Thoughts?
Asked by: wovenstrap

Answered: 10/20/2016
 Right. . .I agree with all of that.   It's silly, and it's counter-productive from the standpoint of fans.  A player who has reached a base safely should be considered to be ON the base as long as he is continuously above the base.   It's parallel to the adjustment to the rules that allows a runner to overrun first base.   The rule used to be. . ..I believe until the 1940s, although I am not sure of that; maybe Craig would know. . . .anyway, the rule used to be that a batter/runner had to stay on the base or be liable to be tagged out; you couldn't run THROUGH the base in foul territory in the way that we now think of as normal.   We just need a parallel adjustment to the rules at the other bases.   


How unusual is a mid-career turn-around like that of Rich Hill?  A 4.89 ERA through age 29, and a 2.70 ERA since; 8.1 K/9 through age 29; 11 K/9 since.  As a part of this, has he changed something about his pitching style/approach?  (I know we're talking small samples here--about 384 IP though age 29, about 214 since, including 38 horrible innings for Cleveland in 2014.)
Asked by: doncoffin

Answered: 10/20/2016
 I didn't realize he had turned it around yet.   I think it is a fairly unusual career path.  
The sideline reporter last night told a story about how a scout for the Red Sox saved Hill's career, signing him and giving him a chance as a starter when he was basically out of baseball in his mid-thirties.  I took it that Hill had told this story to the sideline reporter in an effort to credit the Red Sox guy who had saved his career, and who, ironically, is now working for the Cubs.   But when he reported this story on air, he gave the guy's name as "Garret Port".   It is Jared Porter.    He's one of my best friends from the Red Sox.   


In the excellent book about NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard, there's a passage where he suffered a concussion and missed a few games, and the team announced he was out with an "upper body injury." What's the protocol in MLB? Can teams be that vague/misleading, or are they required to be more specific?
Asked by: those

Answered: 10/20/2016
 Not EXACTLY sure what you are asking.   I don't know when Derek Boogaard was active; I'm guessing it was the same era as Boo Radley, but what do I know?   Anyway, concussions were not well understood until about ten years ago or less, and they were not treated appropriately in any sport before anyone understood the damage that concussions did.   NOW, the handling of concussions is not in the team's hands; it's in the hands of the league.   


Hey Bill,  
Luke Appling is in the Hall of Fame (I assume) primarily because of his hitting.  Was he a good (or better) defensive player?
Asked by: evanecurb

Answered: 10/20/2016
 He wasn't a GREAT defensive player.   Bob Feller wrote an article for The Saturday Evening Post about the Hall of Fame, about 1962, which was the year he (Feller) was elected.  The Saturday Evening Post was huge circulation in those days, and this was one of the first strong opinion pieces about baseball that I ever read--perhaps the first time I had ever heard of the Hall of Fame--and phrases from the article stick with me after all these years.  Appling, who became eligible for the Hall of Fame in the mid-1950s, was not elected right away, and Feller argued strongly that he should be elected.   He wrote something like "They say that he wasn't a great fielder.   Well, all I can say is that he must have been a different fielder when he played Cleveland than he was the rest of the time."   Appling got elected, with the support of Feller, in the next election. 


Regarding mid-inning pitching changes, would a possible solution be to. . .
Asked by: Guy123

Answered: 10/19/2016


You mention that a team faking an injury to put someone on the DL WOULD get caught.  So... in 2014 when Ubaldo Jimenez was 6-12 with 60 walks in 100 innings and he was put on the DL for over a month when he "tweaked his ankle when he fell down in the parking lot" he really tweaked his ankle when he fell down in the parking lot?
Asked by: jwilt

Answered: 10/19/2016
 No idea.   The one you want to be careful of is "broke his fingers slamming a taxi door."   When a player announces that he broke his hand slamming it in the door of a taxi, there's a 92.3% chance he broke it in a bar fight or similar misunderstanding.   I think they've actually moved on from that one now, because just about everybody knew what that meant.  The TEAM can't fake an injury.   The PLAYER can lie about what he was doing when he got the injury; that's a different story.  


Would it in theory be a workable way of reducing mid-inning reliever mania. . . .
Asked by: Zeth

Answered: 10/18/2016
 I'm sorry, but I'm not publishing these.   I've got 20 of them; I knew I would.   I just don't see it as being helpful to the discussion to throw out a wide array of different things that COULD be done.   


A First Nations artist took the Chicago Blackhawks logo, which is treated with a certain level of reverence, and made it more culturally acceptable: A local non-profit team was so impressed with the design, he then sold them the rights.
Asked by: tangotiger

Answered: 10/18/2016
 It's beautiful.   


Mid-inning pitching changes: I think you can do it within the existing rules, and simply declare that a mid-inning pitching change is equivalent to a "delay of game".  And the rule exists that that's an automatic called ball.  Having a pitcher enter with a 1-0 count is fairly significant penalty.  You can amend the rule and say multiple mid-inning pitching changes is an additional penalty, so start the pitcher with 2-0 count.  A 2-0 count turns an average batter into the best hitter in baseball.  No manager could risk doing that.
Asked by: tangotiger

Answered: 10/17/2016


Hey Bill.  In your response to the question about batters sitting on changeups, you mentioned how pitchers today do not (or cannot) pitch inside like in the past and you referenced 1975.  The '75 World Series featured maybe the most famous example of a hitter expecting and crushing an off-speed pitch - Tony Perez off Bill Lee for a three run homer.  Can you remember any others?
Asked by: wilbur

Answered: 10/17/2016
It's a normal part of the game.   It happens in almost every game.  


With your reliever proposal, do you mean a run scores while the reliever was pitching, or a run the reliever was responsible for?
Asked by: 3for3

Answered: 10/17/2016
 The reliever has to be charged with the run.    You've got one free one a game; once a game, you can change the pitcher just because you feel like changing the pitcher.   That's enough.   


I love the stories about Gibson, Drysdale, Stan Williams, etc from the 60's enforcing their will on the hitters.  With what we know about head injuries now, it seems like leaving that in the past is a good thing, overall, for the game.  
There's been some discussion surrounding Gehrig that he may have had CTE instead of ALS.  The symptoms are nearly identical, and he took beanballs in the era before helmets.  Tragic to think that the game he loved may have contributed to his early demise, particularly in the context of his farewell speech.
Asked by: Christopher

Answered: 10/17/2016
 Thanks.   I had not heard that, and don't know anything about it.  


My pet peave with broadcasts is that the experts express their disdain for a decision or praise the genius of it - nothing in-between - but they never disagree with each other. It is frustrating for any fan who has his or her own thoughts.  
Last night on the Canadian post game commentary, Greg Zaun claimed that Terry Francona was a genius from bringing in Andrew Miller in the 7th inning - warming him up for Toronto's big bats in the 8th.  
I thought, "wait a minute - Kluber was pitching great, the teams resume playing in less than 18 hours, they've just weakened Miller for tomorrow. Was that really so smart?"  
What's your take on this, Bill?  
Asked by: John B. Carter, H.S.R.

Answered: 10/17/2016
 Well. . the ethics of the broadcast booth do require that you be respectful of those you are on air with, and this does interfere with the quality of the on-air conversation sometimes.   There is a fine line between saying "you don't know what you are talking about" and saying "I understand that, but I have a little different take on it."   Some guys are good at that, and some guys are so careful not to disagree with their broadcast partner that they miss the chance to discuss an issue that needs to be discussed.   


Say a team is up 3 or 4 runs in the ninth so puts in a so-so reliever who proceeds to look awful -- no command or stuff. Under your proposed reliever rules, it seems like managers would sometimes opt to concede a run in remarkable ways in order to be permitted to pull him. For instance, vacating third base and home in order to allow an uncontested two-base steal. And conversely the offensive club might try to load the bases before scoring a run, stopping at third when the runner could easily make it home. I wonder if you agree that the rule could cause distortions and if you see it as a problem?
Asked by: PB

Answered: 10/17/2016
 I don't see that as a realistic problem, no.   I think you have to contort the real-life game percentages beyond recognition to get to the point where that happens.    Also, the rules require the catcher to be in the catcher's box when the pitch was thrown, so I don't know how you would "abandon" coverage of home plate.   


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