The long winter of our discontent is over. The 2023 MLB season is finally here.

There are a new set of rules this year, on top of the slate of new rules adopted last year. Let’s just say this is no longer the game that I used to play. Tradition has given way to the statisticians.

Rule Changes For 2023:


• 15 seconds with bases empty; 20 seconds with runners on

• Hitter gets 1 timeout per plate appearance; must be in batter’s box with 8 seconds left

• Pitchers get two disengagements (pickoff attempts or step-offs) per batter; violations are a balk

• Limits on pickoff attempts led to 26% increase in stolen base attempts in Minors

• Pitch timer helped reduce game length by 25 minutes in Minors in ‘22

Baseball now has a “play clock” like the NFL? I agree that baseball games today last too long. In 2021, an average game set a record at 3 hours 11 minutes — in the 1970s it was around two hours and 30 minutes. As an old catcher, I can tell you there are pitchers who work fast, and pitchers who work slow. Sometimes a pitcher needs to slow things down to take a batter out of his rhythm. Likewise, a batter may slow down a pitcher and take him out of his rhythm by calling a time out and stepping out of the box. A pitch clock changes this strategy of the game. Under the new rules, pitchers must begin their motion in that time or be assessed a ball. Batters not in the box by the eight-second mark will receive a strike. So a clock now decides balls and strikes? Like there’s not going to be any coach’s challenges to this, which will only slow down the game.

There will also be a 30-second clock between batters and a 2 minute 15 second inning break during regular-season games. Good rule change.


• Two infielders must be positioned on either side of 2B when pitch is released

• All four infielders must have both feet within the infield when pitcher is on rubber

• Shift restrictions increased batting average and decreased strikeouts in Minors while giving players more opportunity to show off their athleticism

The shift has been controversial since the “Ted Williams shift” of the 1940’s. The shift has subsequently been used against extreme pull hitters (mostly those batting left-handed), but never so much as in recent years with deep analytics taking over baseball. A team of statisticians now make more strategic decisions where to place outfielders than does the coaching staff.  And you’re telling me that  infielders cannot play back on the grass in a shallow outfield position? This is not a “shift.”  It is defensive placement.


• 1B, 2B and 3B increased from 15” square to 18” square

• Bigger bases expected to have positive impact on player safety

• Distance reduced by 3″ from home to 1st and home to 3rd, reduced by 4.5″ from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd

• Bigger bases reduced injury events near the bases by more than 13% in the Minors in 2022

I am all for player safety, but this will have an impact on those close plays at first base. More runners should safely make it to first, beating out the throw. And there should be an increase in stolen base attempts. (I saw Ricky Henderson and Lou Brock play, and nobody today steals bases like they did).

Bleacher Report’s Way-too-Early Predictions for the 2023 MLB Playoffs and World Series (excerpts):

Projected AL East Standings
1. New York Yankees (96-66)
2. Toronto Blue Jays (93-69) (wild card)
3. Tampa Bay Rays (86-76)
4. Baltimore Orioles (81-81)
5. Boston Red Sox (72-90)

Projected AL Central Standings
1. Cleveland Guardians (91-71)
2. Chicago White Sox (89-73) (wild card)
3. Minnesota Twins (78-84)
4. Detroit Tigers (64-98)
5. Kansas City Royals (60-102)

Projected AL West Standings
1. Houston Astros (94-68)
2. Seattle Mariners (88-74) (wild card)
3. Texas Rangers (83-79)
4. Los Angeles Angels (78-84)
5. Oakland Athletics (52-110)

Projected NL East Standings
1. Philadelphia Phillies (97-65)
2. Atlanta Braves (94-68) (wild card)
3. New York Mets (91-71) (wild card)
4. Miami Marlins (65-97)
5. Washington Nationals (57-105)

Projected NL Central Standings
1. St. Louis Cardinals (98-64)
2. Milwaukee Brewers (87-75)
3. Chicago Cubs (82-80)
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (69-93)
5. Cincinnati Reds (60-102)

Projected NL West Standings
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (102-60)
2. San Diego Padres (93-69) (wild card)
3. Arizona Diamondbacks (86-76)
4. San Francisco Giants (81-81)
5. Colorado Rockies (63-99)

World Series Prediction

Los Angeles Dodgers over New York Yankees

You know what they say about preseason predictions: “that’s why we play the game.” 162 games is a long season. Anything can happen, and usually does.

Today is Opening Day, with a full slate of games scheduled.

Opening Day remains to this day an almost religious experience for me. It is the one day of the year when every team is tied for first place and everything is possible. The failures of the past season are forgotten and forgiven, and the hopes and dreams of every fan are that “maybe this year our team will win the pennant and go to the World Series.” There is a sense of possibility and hopeful optimism, a sense of renewal and rebirth with the coming of Opening Day.

Anticipation of Opening Day begins in late winter and grows stronger with each passing day. To this day, the four sweetest words in the English language are for me “pitchers and catchers report” to Spring Training. Childhood memories of playing Little League baseball and sandlot baseball can be triggered by the faintest scent of fresh cut grass on a warm spring day, the smell of a sun-warmed leather baseball glove, and the smell of popcorn and hot dogs wafting from a nearby vendor’s cart.

Despite the many failings of the asterisk* era of baseball, it has not diminished my love for the game. Nor can anyone ever take from me my memories of some of baseball’s greatest legends who I had the distinct privilege to see play, or my memories of some of the greatest games ever played which I can replay over again in my mind as if it were only yesterday.

James Earl Jones (as Terrence Mann) in the movie Field of Dreams said it best:

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America is ruled by it like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

Let’s play ball!