Baseball is a very simple game, am I right?
You get nine defenders, they get a batter and, hopefully, only the potential for a few baserunners who will potentially score should your defense allow this.
Your defense usually looks like this, as I'm sure you're familiar:
Pause for a second here...
That's just beautiful, isn't it?
Man, I love baseball!
Anyhow, where were we?
Ahh yes, the infield shift.
Alright, so particularly with left-handed batters, some managers like to shift their infield to allow for what they see as better defensive positioning.
And that looks something like this (though it varies):
See how the defense is in perfect position to retrieve the ball over there on the right side?
To be fair, the shift can be used against righties, too, which you can flip that image in your head to figure that one out yourself.
Now enter the complainers, who hate the shift—just absolutely hate it—and eventually you get this from Major League Baseball:
The Florida State League will limit defensive shifts by drawing chalk lines in a pie shape from second base to the outfield grass starting July 22, prohibiting infielders from the marked area prior to the pitch in an experiment that could increase offense.
Major League Baseball has been testing shift limits all season at Double-A and Class A, requiring teams to have four players on the infield, including two on each side of second base.
Yes, the MLB has heard enough complaints from those guys who make millions of dollars to hit a ball past the defense, and now they're testing out ways to make it a little easier to complete that task (the one they're paid millions of dollars to perform).
Because, as in all sports these days, the fans must not witness the sport performed at the highest level... NO—the fans must be entertained, and entertainment means more offense.
Look at it this way: Imagine if they banned the full-court press in basketball, the neutral zone trap in hockey, or the corner blitz in football.
Nobody would go for that. It's just what defenses evolve to do.
But all of the sudden when a baseball defense gets creative (this has been going on since the 1920s, by the way) people are up in arms?
Give me a break!
Now, I'm not saying I'm pro-shift at all here. In fact, I love the very first graphic up there with your traditional defensive positioning. But if coach wants to move his defenders around, he's got every right.
You only get nine guys!
And I understand that "beating the shift" is very difficult as a batter (kinda the point), but at the highest level of baseball are we really going to create rules that make it easier to compete?
Cuz that just seems like something for little league.
Anyhow, sure, let the MLB try this rule change out—because they will follow through with it. But mark my words: It won't last long.
And honestly, do you really want to visit a ballpark with this disgraceful bit of baseball heresy chalked onto the infield?
Oh, here's a wonderful video of how successful the shift can be for your defense:
And here's a video of a bunch of dudes beating the shift:
I rest my case.
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