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The spring training plan yields new ideas

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MLB’s Spring Training Plan doesn’t make much sense, but some of the ideas associated with the plan are worth a spin

MLB Considers Arizona Minor League Stadiums For Possible 2020 Season Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Every few days now it seems as if some plan Major League Baseball has concocted to bring their brand of baseball back from the shutdown is brought unto the world. Most of these plans are stupid, and that is to be expected when one considers the source. Each and every plan is a product of the minds of Rob Manfred and the MLB owners. They only care about one thing; making as much money as possible. That’s why it’s not surprising in the least that plan after plan is more concerned with playing baseball than the health and safety of anyone who would be involved in the actual playing of the games.

Still, there are some kernels found in these plans that give one hope that MLB may be on to something. No, they aren’t on to when to actually start playing the games. Rather, some of the rule changes they have discussed aren’t completely terrible. That is damning with faint praise at a level that a beaver could appreciate, but this is Manfred and his cabal of owners we are talking about. It’s hard to find things for which they deserve praise. They’re still being praised though because sometimes when they think outside of the box it results in good ideas.

Their most recent plan, I’ve dubbed it the Spring Training Plan, has teams returning to Florida and Arizona to recommence their Grapefruit and Cactus League schedules. Only this time they will be playing actual regular-season games in either the GL or CL. There has been a lot of pushback to that part of the plan, and I fully understand why. I’m a traditionalist in the sense that while I know that the National and American Leagues don’t serve much of a purpose anymore I still like their existence. It’s for this reason, and the obvious health concerns, that I don’t want the Spring Training Plan to actually take place.

The above being said, the Spring Training Plan also included both leagues using a universal designated hitter and playing plenty of doubleheaders with an accompanying increase in roster size. The universal DH is simply the way that baseball should be now. Each of these ideas represents a change that would be good for MLB on the whole.

Unless you’re a two-way stud like Shohei Ohtani, or even a lesser version like Michael Lorenzen, there’s no need for pitchers to ever have a bat in their hands. It’s not that I’m anti-pitchers hitting as much as it is that pitchers can’t hit anymore. I mean, they couldn’t hit that well, to begin with, but now they’re not even close to competent swinging the bat. I’m tired of rallies being killed by the automatic out of a pitcher coming to bat or a pitcher getting hurt when they were running the bases. Yes, yes, pitchers are athletes, but that doesn’t mean they can do something they almost never practice to do.

Doubleheaders are great, and I mean actual doubleheaders. Day/night doubleheaders are okay, but they aren’t as good as the “Hey, we’re gonna go change real quick and then we’ll be back on the field in 10 minutes for the second game” doubleheaders. I want more of those and the chaos they can cause with roster construction and the standings. It’s always a great day to play two, or so I’ve been told.

Increasing the roster size would give more union jobs to the minor leaguers who need them. That’s the main benefit of increasing roster size, but that doesn’t take into account the ways MLB could toy with the rosters. The active roster doesn’t need to be 32 players deep. That roster can stay at 26, but you can have an additional 5-6 players on your gameday roster who can be slotted in so that players who won’t see action in that game can actually sit on the bench and not worry about seeing the field. The way foreign leagues are able to manipulate active rosters in this way is something that MLB should be trying to emulate.

For many reasons, the Spring Training Plan should not take place, and hopefully, it doesn’t. Be that as it may, when baseball does return it would behoove MLB to adopt some of the ideas contained within the ill-fated Spring Training Plan. There are ways to add to MLB’s brand of baseball without drastically altering the game or worrying about any idiotic pace of play mandates. There’s not much confidence that any of the positive ideas coming out of MLB will ever see the light of day. Or maybe there’s a little sliver of light that will hit them just right and they’ll come to pass. Baseball always provides hope, no matter how small or where the source may be.