Death to the IBB
I love the history associated with the game of baseball.Â I love the fact that baseball is a structured game.Â I love the fact that baseball has a sense of indefinable strategy.Â I love the fact that baseball is never consistent.Â Baseball is 162 games of â€œwhat will happen today?â€Â At times, baseball has a mind of its own.Â Players arenâ€™t playing the game, but the game is playing the players.Â Above all, I love that baseball is unpredictable until the bottom of the 9th, 2 outs 3-2 count in game 7 of the World Series (even then there is still a margin of error involved, am I correct Red Sox Nation?).
Overall, I am happy with all the adjustments that have been made to the game since its inception as â€œAmericas Pastime.â€Â Iâ€™m cool with Designated Hitters; Iâ€™m ok with lowered pitching mounds.Â I like instant replay for home run calls (but it should stop there), and I am all in favor of the Wild Card position in the playoffs.Â I even think interleague play is fun and educational because you get to see teams that you wouldnâ€™t normally see (still waiting patiently for the Padres to come see me again at the CoPa).Â I do think that the rules for interleague play should be such that the visiting teams’ rules apply during an interleague game, not the home teams’ just so the home town fans can see a different style of play for a little while each year.
But, I have a beef with organized baseballâ€¦ and that beef is the intentional base on balls (IBB). I hate it – a lot! I think the IBB should be eradicated from the game.Â You can feed me all the lines you want about strategy and positioning and advantages and Iâ€™ll tell you its crap.Â The IBB serves one purpose only â€“ for the pitcher to get around pitching to someone who hits well.Â And basically that is a form of cheating.Â A hitter should not be punished with an IBB (even though it doesnâ€™t go against his batting average, but it does count as a plate appearance) just for being exceptional.Â Pitchers should be forced to challenge these good hitters. After all, itâ€™s part of the game!Â Â The whole point of baseball is to put wood on the ball and a great batter canâ€™t do that if his pitches are eight feet outside the strike zone.
Regardless if whether it is my team or not (Go Tigers!!!) I secretly cheer for the hitter who gets intentionally walked.Â I want that player to come around and touch home, even if they are the winning run – just to serve as a lesson to the pitcher.Â Itâ€™s like a little form of revenge for legalized cheating.Â Even more so, Iâ€™m always hoping that the next batter up after the IBB cranks one out of the park as a little â€œha ha â€“ thatâ€™s what you getâ€ moment to the pitcher.Â In Major League Baseball, any batter is capable of hitting a homerun at any given time on any given night â€“ unpredictability at its finest.
But the problem with the IBB is that it isnâ€™t just going against the batter.Â Pitchers should never underestimate the power of a batter. One of the best ways of improving pitching is to pitch to great hitters, and the IBB takes that away from the pitcher.Â By pitching to great hitters and finding out their strengths and weaknesses at the plate, it causes the pitcher to step up his game a little too.Â The pitcher toughs it out and finds out what they need to do to face these tough hitters.Â It improves pitching skills and also commands a high level of perseverance.
I think that many fans agree with me on the eradication of the IBBâ€¦ I have never, ever been to a ball game when the fans did not boo loudly when the cleanup hitter comes to bat and the pitcher and catcher get in position to start the pitchout.Â It kills the momentum of the game and angers many fans at the same time.Â The fans sit with anticipation to see if their favorite power hitter is going to pull that ball out of the park into left field or if they are going to go down swingingâ€¦ and they are rewarded for their love and loyalty with an IBBâ€¦ For this very reason alone, the IBB should be another page in baseballâ€™s history book.