It does not matter a clinic about the new rules, or even a list of them. Major League Baseball launched a multimedia ad campaign Thursday to get the message across, invoking two Hall of Famers whose distinguished careers peaked four decades ago.
Back to the future, so to speak.
“This is the game we all want to see,” says actor Bryan Cranston. In a place. “Take the ball, throw the ball. Keep the defense alert.
“Field like Ozzie. Run like Rickey.
“So get that shift out of here. Free up the players to put on a show.”
ozzie smith he is best remembered for his acrobatic fielding, a skill MLB hopes will be enhanced by restrictions on defensive switching.
rickey henderson, the all-time leader in stolen bases, stole between 41 and 130 bases in each season of the 1980s. The Miami Marlins’ Jon Berti led the majors with 41 steals last season; only five players drew more than 30.
In 1980, when Henderson led the majors with 100 stolen bases, 22 players stole more than 30. MLB hopes that the combination of bigger bases (a shorter run between bases) and limitations on interception throws could revive the running game.
The shot clock is the third big change, with all MLB ads using the tagline: “Three new rules. More great action.”
MLB featured players in some of its ads, including Cincinnati Reds icon Joey Votto in oneand Chicago White Sox star Tim Anderson and San Diego Padres standout Blake Snell in another.
The rule changes, tested and refined in the minor leagues over the past several years, were implemented in spring training this year. The results, according to the league: Batting averages were up, stolen bases were up and playing time was down, by 24 minutes.
In 1988, a year the Dodgers won the World Series, the Dodgers lost their opener 5-1 in 2 hours and 24 minutes. Last year, the Dodgers lost their opener 5-3 in 3 hours and 9 minutes.