MLB ends a beautiful part of its games … intentionally

The intentional walk was a ritual.

The hitter would tap the plate with his bat and sink into his stance and stare at the pitcher, ready to hit. Expecting to hit. At first, he wouldn’t see the catcher standing behind him extending an arm to the side. A white flag. The fans would boo.

The hitter would hear the fans and turn his head and look at the catcher and realize what was happening. And for a second, the hitter’s face would show contempt for the other team. And then he would get back in his stance and prepare to hit in case the pitcher and catcher were bluffing, and sometimes they were. And the hitter would watch the pitcher lob the ball six feet outside. And the fans would boo.

Sometimes, the pitcher would lob the ball too far outside or over the catcher’s head and the ball would roll to the backstop. And sometimes, the pitcher would lob the ball too far inside and the hitter would hit a home run. A lot of pressure on these pitches that seemed easy but weren’t. After the fourth one, the batter finally would jog to first base. And the fans would boo.

This ritual no longer exists in Major League Baseball.

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This article has 13 Comments

  1. Great job Grant.

    “After the top of the seventh inning, fans sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

    As a Cub fan I enjoy these baseball rituals. I’m also reminded of the time Will Clark swung at an intentional ball against the Cubs. He flew out deep to Right Field. I think it happened in the early 90’s.

  2. This rule change is bad but not as bad as the NFL changing the distance of their extra points

  3. Sad when entertainment has to be cut short. These leagues are tinkering too much lately. Better than the NFL moving 3 teams in a year though. ONE thing baseball as is long roots in their cities. Other than the Expos moving to Washington DC it just doesn’t happen in baseball. Eventually this lack of loyalty will catch up with the NFL as it did with Boxing moving more to Pay per view and off national TV. Start disrupting your fan bases and people will turn to other sport or entertainment..

  4. Agree Grant. Sad day anytime you chip away at the tradition of the game. Just the chance of something going wrong when intentionally walking a batter is enough to keep it part of the game. It’s not as easy as it looks to execute that play. Eliminating the play does not speed up the game much, if at all, and frankly, what’s the hurry?. Sit back, drink a beer and eat some garlic fries, and enjoy the game the way it was meant to be played! It’s part of the game for Gods sake. Not anymore. Sad.

    1. I agree. The reason for the elimination of a ritual is specious. Speed up the game? Maybe they should cut back on the commercials.

      1. Seb,
        That will happen in the NFL this season, they will cut back from 24 to 18…..Oh wait a minute then they will length their breaks from 1 min to 1 min 30 secs…..never mind

  5. Now the players will have more time to tuck their gold chains into their shirts.

  6. We need more great columns like this on baseball and basketball. The focus is football and the Forty Niners – that’s kind of sad.
    They don’t even play in the Bay Area.

    Traditions like the walk, should not be messed with. The game goes too slow because of pitching changes – there’s far too many of them. Add to that the amount of commercials the greedy league runs and you have a very long game.

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