Boston Red Sox

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: Theo Epstein, MLB consultant, speaks during a press conference at MLB Headquarters on September 09, 2022 in New York City. Major League Baseball announced today a set of rule changes that will change the way the game is played. The changes will include a pitch clock and a ban on defensive shifts in 2023 that will speed up the game's pace and increase action. An expansion of the size of bases were also implemented. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Major League Baseball claims its making the changes for you. The cynic suggests they are making changes to their save their business. Many of us believe those are one and the same.

You, after all, are their business.

So while some are grumbling – including players – about the changes coming to MLB next season, remember this: the players agreed to this in the latest collective bargaining. That’s right, the players signed off on an 11-person rules committee that contains six owners, four players and one umpire, which means the they gave owners control of the rules. Players can complain about whatever they want – and their union will urge them to do so in to preserve the vitriol it wants from its membership toward ownership – but let’s not kid ourselves. If baseball union leadership felt strongly about the rules on the field, they would have fought for them.

Instead, they took higher rookie wages, pre-arbitration bonus money and cold, hard cash – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But let’s not pretend now that they cared about the rules so much.

As for you, if you’re a traditionalist, you shouldn’t be bitching, either. The idea, after all, is to get the game back to what it was before data analysts micromanaged it to a halt, which is how we ended up here in the first place.

As such, here are the three prominent rule changes for 2023 – and why you should love them:

  • The pitch timer

    WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 11: Eric Hanhold #70 of the New York Mets gets set to deliver a pitch as the pitch clock counts down during the ninth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros at Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 11, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Mets 6-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

    WEST PALM BEACH, FL – MARCH 11: Eric Hanhold #70 of the New York Mets gets set to deliver a pitch as the pitch clock counts down during the ninth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros at Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 11, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Mets 6-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

    Ya Mazz, baseball shouldn’t have a clock. You’re right. It shouldn’t. But the fact that it needs one is an obvious indictment on what the game has morphed into. pitchers take time to recharge their arms. Batters take forever to get into the box. Each player on the field is doing what is in his best interests, largely because the analytics dictate it. As Theo Epstein said, that isn’t the players’ fault. But the game has gotten selfish at the expense of the product and fanbase. So the game is now going to get harder for them, which is good. Less time to recharge. Less time to think. More uncertain results. That’s the whole point of sports.

  • The banning of shifts

    DENVER, CO - APRIL 16: The New York Mets infield plays a defensive shift against Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 16, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. All uniformed team members are wearing jersey number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

    DENVER, CO – APRIL 16: The New York Mets infield plays a defensive shift against Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 16, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. All uniformed team members are wearing jersey number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

    The photo above? It’s from nine years ago. Nine years. Here’s the point: hitters have had plenty of time to adjust to shifts by hitting the ball to the opposite field … or bunting … or however. They haven’t, at least in part because analytics (there’s that dirty word again) dictate they hit over the shift instead of through it, which has led to launch angles, home runs and strikeouts. The real problem with the shifts is that guy stationed on outfield grass because his range just grew exponentially. As such, teams don’t want or need an athlete at second basemore. They want a slugger. Think of how the shift has changed that position. Time to get rid of it.

  • Bigger bases

    CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11:  David Bote #13 of the Chicago Cubs stands on third base in the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on September 11, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

    CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 11: David Bote #13 of the Chicago Cubs stands on third base in the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on September 11, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

    OK, admittedly, this one seems a little silly. But again, the analytics are at work here. In announcing the rules changes on Friday, Theo Epstein cited “player safety” when discussing bigger bases, which is laughable. The bases are fine. But the data suggests that teams are more likely to steal when their success rate nears 80 percent, so you know what baseball is doing? Altering the numbers. Bigger bases, by definition, means a shorter distance between them. Will this inspire more running? We shall see. In the interim, celebrate the humor of Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill, who demonstrated before Saturday’s game at Baltimore what the new bases might look like.