Although they apparently haven’t been able to agree on much lately, MLB and the MLB Players Association may be able to come together on a change that should make the gameday experience a little bit better for fans without much of an impact on the players.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, MLB and the Players Union are discussing a plan to flip-flop batting practice so the home team hits second (closer to game time) rather than first.
It’s simple, yes, but also an elegantly subtle improvement.
And if it can be agreed upon, the deal would also represent an agreement between the league and the players, who just struggled (er, failed) to come to terms on a number of other, more significant rule changes.
If both sides can agree, here’s how they’re hoping it’ll impact the players, fans, and teams positively:
- Players of the home team will be able to stay at home with their families a little bit longer before heading to the stadium.
- Fans will have a better shot at seeing their hometown team take batting practice, with the closer proximity to game time.
- Clubs should see increased concession sales as fans enter the stadium earlier than usual.
Of course, every plan comes with negatives, as well.
Most notably, the flip would force the visiting players to be at the stadium a bit longer than usual. And that problem is exacerbated by the fact that the home facilities/amenities are often much better than what the away team has (Wrigley Field in 2016 probably being the biggest example of the disparity).
According to Sherman and the New York Post, this idea is still in the discussion stage and nothing has been finalized yet.
Although it seems like something of a no-brainer, you’re reminded how much trouble the MLB and MLBPA had agreeing on various, seemingly benign rule changes earlier this week. Even still, this one feels like one that could sneak by in time for 2017.
And for what it’s worth, I hope it does.
Of course, given Joe Maddon’s general lack of interest in batting practice, it’s possible this won’t impact that many Cubs home games.