The Atlantic

MLB’s Bold Efforts to Remake Baseball

Opening Day 2019 finds the league tinkering with the sport to draw younger audiences—and weighing which aspects of the game are essential.
Source: Brad Mills / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Earlier this month, the little-known Atlantic League made news. In partnership with Major League Baseball, the independent minor league announced that it would be implementing a series of rule changes designed to “create more balls in play, defensive action, baserunning, and improve player safety.” In other words, the Atlantic League would become a testing ground for tweaks that might find their way to the majors, such as electronic home-plate umpires and moratoriums on mound visits. To baseball obsessives, these alterations surely seem sacrilegious. To some casual fans, they might scan as reasonable and even exciting.

The commissionership of Rob Manfred, which. He has “an organic movement” away from the homer- and strikeout-heavy trends of recent seasons. But the trial runs in the Atlantic League, and the about baseball’s 50-plus fanbase, suggest that more meaningful changes could be imminent. America’s most traditional sport is now fully subject to revision, and new seasons have begun to feel like focus groups.

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