New Season, New Rules, and a Special Interview

At long last we've finally reached that point of year that baseball fans long for. The season has begun. This is of course bittersweet for us here at VEB. On the one hand, we have games that matter, and real stats that count. On the other hand we have wins and losses that rank teams with little regard for the underlying metrics. We must warn of small sample sizes until the season is over. Only then can we use xFIP, xwOBA, and other data to tell us who really should have won.

With this new season come many new rules. The bases are larger, time clocks are in play, the shift is gone, and the added runner in extra innings is now permanent. No longer are the days of Gallegos turning a half inning of work into a half hour of your life. With these new rules come new stats. Fangraphs reports that they are tinkering with a few, but will be implementing xRIP and xRIwOBA. For those losing track of the acronyms, these are similar to the xFIP and xwOBA that we have become familiar with. The "RI" in these refer to rule independent results. What would the result have been if there wasn't an extra strike called on the batter because he had to fix his batting gloves yet again, or the pitcher hadn't sufficiently stared down the umpire for his last bad call? What if that runner didn't start on second in extra innings? Would that still be a steal if the bases were a normal size?

With the resounding love for these new rules, we were able to get a preview from the commissioner on future rule changes for 2024 and beyond, as well as some of baseball's other efforts.

Viva el Birdos Reporter: "Thank you for joining us to talk about these new rule changes, you've been the most active commissioner in changing baseball's rules in recent memory."

Commish: "It's always a pleasure to talk with the rabble and explain how baseball should be played."

VEBR: "I've heard nothing but good reviews for the changes from everyone that you pay to promote baseball."

Commish: "That is of course what we want to hear. The sad truth is that these rules should have been in place a long time ago, just like the sport gave up on calling an out on a catch after a bounce in 1864."

VEBR: "The universal DH has been widely accepted as a great thing for the sport, and a the best way to keep pitchers healthy besides not having them pitch. Any thoughts of further expansion?"

Commish: "That's already in the plans for next year. With players like Ohtani who pitch and hit, it seemed unfair to have one team get a DH, and not the other. Maybe that team didn't want a DH either, because all of their players learned to hit in addition to playing the field or pitching. Our solution was to let the teams decide how many designated hitters they want at the beginning of the game. Now they won't have to see their defense first players put up pitiful at-bats either."

VEBR: "What's to stop a team from playing a whole lineup of designated hitters?"

Commish: "This is where we had to get a little inventive. There will be a half run penalty for each DH that you choose to use."

VEBR: "What an interesting addition. This should add great strategy to the game. For half a run, will that round up or down at the end of the game?"

Commish: "A half run won't count against the team, unless the game is tied going into extra innings."

VEBR: "What happens then?"

Commish: "In a tie game, if one team has the half run penalty, and the other doesn't, the one without will be declared the winner."

VEBR: "It's exciting that we won't have to see the free runner on second for those games."

Commish: "Yes, and for those that do have to go to extras, we will continue to add additional runners each inning that the game continues until the bases are full to start the inning."

VEBR: "Changing subjects now, MLB has made some major strides in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Can you tell us more about that?"

Commish: "We took a bold stand in 2021 of moving the All-Star game from Atlanta. I know that it took it from a city that was 48% Black to one that was 9% when the extra economic activity could have helped small business owners, but I think that we made the point sufficiently that we can be as corporately active as the next company these days."

VEBR: "The law you were protesting is still on the books."

Commish: "Yes, but we needed to be seen to be doing something. The results don't matter, just the appearance of action."

VEBR: "Baseball has been chided as not having enough Black players. They make up only 7% of players compared to 14% of the population. What efforts are being made on that front?"

Commish: "Our problem is the large number of Hispanic players. At 28% of baseball players, versus 19% in the general US population we've had to get creative. I'm pleased to annouce that we're in discussions with the NBA about trading some players so that we can better hit racial quotas."

VEBR: "Will we ever see a woman play Major League Baseball?"

Commish: "This is where we get to one of our biggest new pushes. We've known that most women would just be outmatched in today's game. To even this out better we are developing a moveable mound. It can be adjusted accordingly to put it closer if a woman is pitching, or further back if she is hitting. This will even the playing field, not just for women, but for any who may otherwise not be able to crack an MLB roster."

VEBR: "Would this put them in danger of comebackers when they are that close?"

Commish: "There will be a protective shield that will pop up in front of the mound after the pitch is thrown. We're currently fine tuning it so that it quits chopping off arms when it pops up out of the ground."

VEBR: "What happens if the ball hits it?"

Commish: "We project what would have happened, just like all the advanced statisticians these days. Our goal someday is to have all pure projected outcomes without the hassle of having to pay players. We're still working on figuring out how to do that while people still pay us money because they like baseball."

VEBR: "Thanks for your time. We look forward to this baseball season, and all the fun that it brings."

Happy opening weekend to all of you here at vivaelbirdos. Happy April Fool's Day as well. I hope you appreciated my attempt at humor. No commissioners were interviewed for this posting.