Tuesday brought news of a relatively small but noteworthy change being implemented by MLB this season: Intentional walks will now be granted to hitters with a signal from the opposing dugout, rather than by having the pitcher throw four obvious balls. While the baseball powers that be, such as Commissioner Rob Manfred, see the move as helping speed games up, not everyone is thrilled to see the four-pitch intentional walk go the way of the dodo.
For one thing, while it seems like the simplest of acts to lob four pitches to a catcher standing well away from the batter’s box, things can and do occasionally go awry, which is always fun. Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis pointed out on Twitter that he has twice scored on errant pitches during intentional walks, one of which was featured in a video posted by another Twitter user.
But I’ve scored twice on an overthrow during an intentional walk… https://t.co/cSHhsBQknY
— Jason Kipnis (@TheJK_Kid) February 22, 2017
•The MLB has approved to change the intentional walk rule. Which now will be granted following dugout signal. Take a look at these classics. pic.twitter.com/g3iyEW5kB3
— Dylan (@DylansFreshTake) February 22, 2017
I'm kind of disappointed to see the intentional walk disappear if only because I loved to see it botched every now and then.
— Baseball Joe Veyera (@JoeVeyera) February 22, 2017
The flip side of that scenario comes when a pitcher actually gets his lob a little too close to the strike zone and an intrepid batter goes for it. That’s fun, too!
As we say goodbye to the intentional walk(for now), I'd like to remind everyone of this absolute boss moment from Miggy. pic.twitter.com/KouH4Ixvew
— Jason Ochart (@Jason_cOchart) February 22, 2017
@Tony_Frye I saw Will Clark single on an attempted intentional walk. It was awesome. Make them throw the dang pitches.
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) February 22, 2017
Some online commenters made the case that the rule change will be so inconsequential, it’s hardly worth it.
Intentional walks took an estimated 1410 minutes in 2016.
That is 35 seconds per game. Is the automatic IBB really gonna fix pace of play?
— MLB Statistics (@MLBRandomStats) February 22, 2017
932 intentional walks in 2,428 games last season. A baseball game is now, on average, 1.5 pitches shorter.
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) February 22, 2017
Others, not surprisingly, took things in a less serious direction.
I like the moment of the intentional walk especially late in the game. I want the guy on deck to have enough time to get properly offended.
— Royals Nation (@RoyalsNation) February 22, 2017
Instead of cutting the intentional walk, make it more exciting! All intentional walks to be thrown by the center fielder, minimum 300 feet.
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) February 21, 2017
But if the ol’ four-pitch IBB must go, can we at least have some fun with the dugout signal? Twitter certainly thought we should (note: there were lots of middle-finger suggestions that won’t be passed along here).
Dugout signal: Manager must mimic Walk like an Egyptian dance. https://t.co/Rx8jjbxPiG
— Matt Wurst (@mwurst) February 22, 2017
— Kosmic Tom (@tomthirtysix) February 22, 2017
This should be the new intentional walk signal. pic.twitter.com/xgLOrcL1lC
— Greg Tepper (@Tepper) February 22, 2017