THE COMMISSIONER PROPOSES TO RESTRICT SHIFTING IN BASEBALL—A TERRIBLE IDEA. This article by Mark Townsend in Yahoo Sports tells how Rob Manfred, the new baseball commissioner, has been in office less than a day and he has already proposed “the elimination of defensive shifts, which he says give the defensive team a competitive advantage”. This is a terrible idea for a number of reasons:
*Extreme defensive shifts have been part of the game for a very long time.The Williams Shift goes back to the 1940’s.
*The purpose of a new rule would be de-emphasize the skill of placing where the ball is hit—a skill exemplified by Rod Carew, Tony Gwynn, and Ichiro.
*The recent increased use of defensive shifting has added an additional element of strategy to the game. Positioning is valued in football, basketball and tennis. And baseball fans are not supposed to be able to appreciate it?
If more offense is desired—and one or two year’s increased use of shifting is a little early to make a determination—baseball can always tinker with the strike zone as it has done in the past.