Goldman: Pretty is what changes in baseball

From SABR member Steven Goldman at The Hardball Times on February 22, 2019:

In early February, there were several reports (among them this one from ESPN’s Jeff Passan) that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association were discussing a number of possible rules changes. The two sides had booted around bringing the designated hitter to the National League, a three-batter minimum for pitchers, the expansion of rosters to 26 men with a limit on pitcher spots, and more.

As with almost everything about Major League Baseball, an institution that always has made a virtue of moving at geologic speed, the discussions were frustratingly inconclusive. In fact, their purpose might not have been to reach a conclusion; rather, the conversation was the thing. Throughout Passan’s article, there is the suggestion that the talks represent a modus vivendi, a conversation whose main purpose is to keep the sides in communication and facilitate later, more urgent conversations:

In typical bargaining sessions, dozens of ideas are offered, considered and placed on the back burner, so the likelihood of a handful of these proposals being ratified, let alone all of them, is unlikely, according to sources. Still, as MLB and the union seek to find a place of understanding amid a winter chill that has fractured already-tenuous relations, the mere discussion, sources said, is considered a positive.

Well, maybe. As Winston Churchill said, to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war, but taking the mere fact of conversation as a positive presupposes the luxury of a leisurely approach to problem-solving in baseball. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” goes the cliché, but time breaks everything.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: February 22, 2019. Last Updated: February 22, 2019.