I’ve been writing far more opinion-driven articles lately. One of those articles specifically deals with the various methods we used to play baseball growing up. Needless to say, every group of friends had their own brand of baseball with varying surfaces used as fields, different rules, and a wide swath of items that were used as balls or bats. That article got me thinking about the future of the game of baseball in ways that I never had before.
My entire baseball life I’ve been somewhat of a fringe traditionalist. I knew what I liked about baseball and I pushed for those things to stay the same. I’ve always been open to new ideas, but never anything all that out there or wacky. Writing the aforementioned article led to some deep reflection on the ways the game that we know and love is likely to change in the years to come.
First and foremost I think we all need to be prepared for new rules. I’m not sure that any of these will be sweeping changes across multiple leagues, but changes are still coming. We should be getting ready for more 7 inning games. Players stealing first base at any point during an at-bat will become more commonplace. Games ending in a draw will make a significant comeback across most leagues. The mound may be moved closer or further away in certain leagues, and we could even see something as drastic as a limit on the type of pitches that can be thrown.
More than any of the above what really piqued my interest is the way I see the landscape of the global game sorting out. Independent baseball will take a large hit, with a number of leagues closing up shop and new leagues emerging from the ashes. Major League Baseball will expand globally. As they run out of ways to make more money with the setup they have right now the world’s biggest baseball organization will look to expand globally to keep their revenues up.
The organization looking at the biggest change is that of Minor League Baseball. I’m not sure there will be an MiLB two years from now, let alone five, ten, or fifteen years into the future. They’ve been giving ground to MLB for years now and recent developments like The Houston Plan, the shortening of the draft, and the move in MLB towards not viewing MiLB as essential make it clear that MiLB’s days are numbered. Existing in a baseball world without the minor leagues will be quite the culture shock.
Maybe none of these changes will come to pass, I’m not sure of anything these days. That doesn’t mean I don’t expect change and I think any baseball fan should expect change. COVID-19 is going to bring plenty of changes to the baseball; landscape, and who knows what other changes may come about in the years to follow.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown