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Bill Veeck Would Love the Ohtani Rule

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On Tuesday, Major League Baseball announced several rule changes that would go into effect for the 2022 season. One of the new rules is especially intriguing and appears to have been enacted for one player and one team. The strangest of the new rules was what we will call the Ohtani Rule, named after Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani. What this particular rule will do is allow pitchers who are in the batting order at the start of the game to remain as the designated hitter after they are pulled from the mound. As always, Ohtani can be the starting pitcher and hit as well. The new rule will allow Ohtani to convert to DH once he is done pitching.

In other words, Ohtani could get knocked out in the top of the first, and still take his turns at the dish. Since he is the only two-way player currently playing at the MLB level, the rule has correctly been dubbed The Ohtani Rule. Only he and the Angels will benefit from this new rule. So, as long as you are an Angels fan, your team will play under different, more advantageous rules than the 29 other MLB teams. This sounds like something Barnum Bill Veeck would try to pull off until MLB told him no. Veeck must be rolling over in his grave. There is no doubt that Barnum Bill Veeck would love the Ohtani Rule.

Why the Ohtani Rule Makes No Sense

While MLB seems to be implementing the new rule with good intentions, the fact is that it does put the other teams at a disadvantage. Laughably, one comment on the rule suggested that the new rule “could encourage more two-way players down the line.” Yes, I have no doubt that is exactly what MLB was thinking, and the new rule has nothing at all to do with hyping one of the game’s superstars even more if that is possible. Maybe Bill Veeck should have had Minnie Minoso bat once every inning. That sounds like a pretty good idea, and I imagine that many White Sox fans would concur.

Another reason why the new rule makes no sense is that it might justifiably lead others to push for new rules of their own. Is Ohtani the only player in all of MLB with a unique skill set? What if each team had a unique player for whom they could suggest a new rule? This may sound silly, but it is meant to be totally serious. Surely there must be other players with unique talents who could add more fun and excitement. Why not try to level the playing field, and make rule changes that will benefit everybody?

More Creative Rule Changes

Space limitations do not allow for 29 additional rule proposals. However, we have racked our brains and come up with a few that MLB should seriously consider adopting for 2022. We believe that they are similar to the Ohtani Rule and merit strong consideration. Here are just a few of them:

  • The Hamilton Rule – Named for the speedy Billy Hamilton, who has speed to burn, but couldn’t hit if his life depended on it. This rule states that, Mariners manager Scott Servais will be able to insert Hamilton as a designated runner up to three times in a game. This would include twice in the same inning. However, Hamilton would not be allower to run three times in the same inning. That would just be silly.
  • The Pujols Rule – We all know that Albert’s best days are well behind him, and it hurts to watch him swing the bat at times. However, Pujols did have an OPS of over 1.000 against lefties in 2021. This rule says that, anytime after the 5th inning, Pujols can pinch hit against a left-hander. He could hit twice in the same inning, but never three times. (See Hamilton Rule)
  • The Wendle Rule – Joey Wendle was an All-Star with the Rays in 2021, but was traded to the Marlins. He also has an OPS righty/lefty differential of over 500 points. It seems grossly unfair for MLB to make an All-Star hit against those kinds of odds. The Wendle Rule stipulates that, whenever a left-handed reliever enters a game, the Marlins can pinch-hit for him. Then he can re-enter after the pinch-hitter completes his at-bat. This can happen up to three times in a game.
  • The Eddie Gaedel Rule – Eddie was one of Veeck’s innovations to the great game of baseball. Gaedel was only three feet and seven inches tall, and Veeck thought he would be a great leadoff man. Sure enough, the diminutive Gaedel walked on four pitches, and was promptly banned from MLB. The Gaedel rule would allow each team to carry one dwarf on their team, and allow him to lead off an inning three times in a game. This would surely increase scoring and attract more fans. It would also help MLB stay in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. A true win-win.

In All Seriousness, Though

Surely, the rule changes proposed above are all in jest, although they might bring more fun to the game. The great game of baseball doesn’t need more rules to make it attractive to those who truly love the game. We get that MLB is trying to increase the entertainment value of its product. Ohtani is certainly one of the major attractions in the game today. However, this rule change strikes us as not much more than a gimmick by MLB, which should know better. That is just our opinion, and every fan has his or her opinion as well. Yet some rules just don’t make sense to us, and baseball doesn’t need gimmicks. This is almost as crazy as having ghost runners on second base. That could never happen, could it?

main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Mike Fisk is a lifelong baseball fan. For him, there is nothing like being at a baseball game, with the sights, the sounds, the smells. Writing about baseball is a bonus!