Throwing four balls outside the strike zone is what baseball lords refer to as the "intentional walk." It's easily the dumbest rule – and biggest waste of time – in Major League Baseball.
According to ESPN, MLB officials have proposed a new rule: pitchers wouldn't be forced to throw four balls to get a batter to first base on purpose.
We assume the proposal was written something like this:
"We know it's dumb as (expletive) to make a pitcher throw four baseballs in order to let a dude walk to first base, so let's not do it anymore. Instead, how about the pitcher or catcher looks at the ump and says, 'We don't want to pitch to this dude, so we're just going to let him walk – hell, jog if he wants – to first base.' Sound like a deal?"
If it's any more complicated than that it's a waste of time.
Strike zone changes?
ESPN adds that MLB officials hope to get the MLBPA to agree to raising the lower part of the strike zone about two inches. The goal is to put more baseballs in play and cut down on strikeouts and walks, which accounted for just under 30 percent of all plate appearances last season.
This would be very good for guys like Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton ... and equally bad for pitchers.
Expect final word on the proposals within a week or two because teams begin reporting to spring training next week.
Twins pitchers and catchers report Feb. 13, with the first workout on Valentine's Day.