St. Louis Cardinals: Traditional intentional walk is no more

May 3, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (16) tosses his bat after hitting a walk-off solo home run off of Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Radhames Liz (not pictured) during the fourteenth inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Pirates 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
May 3, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (16) tosses his bat after hitting a walk-off solo home run off of Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Radhames Liz (not pictured) during the fourteenth inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Pirates 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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As part of a group of proposals to the player union, Major League Baseball and the union came to agreement to change the form of the traditional intentional walk. How will this affect our St. Louis Cardinals?

As first reported by ESPN’s Jayson Stark, MLB offered a few different proposals to the MLB Player’s Association. Only one was agreed upon as baseball will no longer have the old-fashioned four lobs to the plate for an intentional walk. Will this affect the St. Louis Cardinals‘ pitching staff and approach?

In an attempt to speed up the game, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has offered solutions of making the strike zone smaller (?) and implementing a pitch clock. Fellow Redbird Rants writer, Dr. Michael D. Miles, shared his thoughts about the proposals in the latest “Daily Rant.” The only proposal that gained traction was the intentional walk rule, but how much does this really change?

Coaches will now give a signal to the umpire when they want to intentionally pass a batter, similar to how it is played out in high school and little league baseball.

"“Getting rid of the old-fashioned intentional walk would eliminate about a minute of dead time per walk,” according to ESPN."

Personally, I am a bit indifferent to this rule. On one hand, baseball fans will hardly notice a change, especially in the time factor. However, it takes out the human aspect of making mistakes, or getting the yips (if you would). Plenty of pitchers have fallen victim to making mistakes like throwing the ball over the catcher’s head and to the backstop, or letting the ball leak back over the plate.

History of the Intentional Walk

An article in the 2011 Baseball Research Journal written by Bill Deane uncovered 11 incidents in which the batter swung at an intentional ball and managed to keep it in play. Some of the most memorable, funny incidents include:

  • In 1907 and 1908, Eddie Plank managed to allow two hits while attempting an intentional walk: a Ty Cobb triple and a walk-off grounder by Frank Parent.
  • Pete Rose caught Giants’ third basemen Jimmy Ray Hart by surprise in 1972 by swinging at the deliberate ball, allowing the eventual winning run to score.
  • 2006 Marlin Miguel Cabrera ignited an offensive burst in extra innings by taking a hack at the first intentional ball thrown by Orioles pitcher Todd Williams for a go-ahead RBI single that sparked the eventual Marlins winning score of 8-5.

Most noteworthy for we fans who wear the birds on the bat is that there has never been a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who has fallen to these circumstances, avoiding an embarrassing loss.

In conclusion, this could be a move we look back on in twenty years and tell our grandchildren about. As a result, they’ll just laugh at us for making a big deal about something as minuscule as this change.

That said, I am all for making the game better and  getting more consumers interested in the MLB product. So, if this brings more eyes to America’s game, then sign me up.

Next: Baseball Strike possible in 2018

Do you have any thoughts to the new rule change and how it may affect the St. Louis Cardinals? Or maybe particularly dislike one of the other proposed rule changes proposed by Rob Manfred. Let us know in the comments below or on the Redbird Rants social media accounts.