On Feb. 22, 2017, MLB changed its intentional walk rule. Instead of four pitches leading to an intentional walk, managers can now signal from the dugout to have the player take first base — sans the four pitches. Players are now told to "take your base" as they near the batter's box.
The rule was changed all in the name of shaving off seconds from game times. Yes, we're talking mere seconds of a game. According to SBNATION reporter Kelsey McKinney, eliminating the four pitches saves Major League Baseball one minute per walk. That’s one minute every 2.6 games.
The rule is one of many changes intended to make the game shorter. There is a reason why baseball is called America's favorite pastime: It's a long game used to pass time that would otherwise be boring. MLB made the unfortunate decision to change this rule, and now college baseball is looking to follow in its footsteps.
College baseball should not change the intentional walk rule because it permits artificial elements to enter one of the most organic sports. It takes out the human error of the game.
It removes a brief moment of excitement for both teams playing the game as well as fans watching. The original intentional walk rule allowed for balls to pass the catcher, giving the opposing team the opportunity to score. It provided the batter an opportunity to swing if the ball got within swinging distance. Now it is "take your base" and that's the end of that.
Sadly, MLB has decided to appeal to the modern age and people's short attention spans. The new intentional walk rule tinkers with the natural path of the game. It takes away the possibility of progressing by someone else's error. It makes the game too calculating and takes away the challenge of trying to best the pitcher.
Baseball is all about timing, and that is exactly what this rule is taking away — time. An effort to increase the speed of extra-inning games (which don't happen very often) shames the effort that teams have given for over one hundred years. The original rule reminded the audience that although there is one man up to bat, baseball is still a team sport.
There are nine players in the batting order and nine on the field. A team can't depend on one or two batters to win the game. It put fear and anxiety into the opposing team: The fear and the anxiety of who is hitting later in a lineup.
It placed value on decision-making and strategy. It also creates solace in knowing that not just one player can beat an entire team.
Now that the rule has changed, it has reversed all of that. Now strategies don't have to be thought about. It gives every batter the opportunity to advance without any effort. It removes value from watching the game. Baseball's rules have stayed the same for so long for a reason. It's because it works, and it works well. Like the saying goes, don't fix something that isn't broken.
For these reasons, college baseball should not change the intentional walk rule.
Caitlin Scott is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Caitlin69123118