Tag Archives: Sports Commentary

How the MLB’s revisions improve the game

Embed from Getty Images

At the beginning of September, Major League Baseball announced three new changes that will alter how the game is played. Starting next year, the MLB will implement a pitch clock, increase the size of the bases, and enforce limits on the shift.

The new pitch clock will make it so that pitchers must begin their motion within 30 seconds between batters, 15 seconds for batters with no runners on base, and 20 seconds for batters when there are runners on base.

Pitchers will have two disengagements (pickoffs and step-offs) per batter, and if a third pickoff is unsuccessfully attempted, the runners will advance a base. However, if runners advance, the pitcher will get 2 more “disengagements.”

With a similar pitch clock in Triple-A ball this year, the average play time decreased by about 21 minutes.

Embed from Getty Images

The MLB has been trying to make the game shorter for years and, in trying to do so, has made the game worse with the implementation of runners starting on second base in extra innings.

However, they have finally figured it out with the new changes. The new pitch clock will only increase the pace of play while keeping traditional aspects of the game, and this simple revision will make the games quicker and more exciting.

The MLB will also increase the size of the bases from 15 square inches to 18 square inches. This adjustment should lead to fewer injuries and more stolen bases.

With bigger bases, the injuries to players as they run to 1st base or slide into 2nd or 3rd base should be less frequent. Bigger bases also mean that the distance between bases is less, so there should be more attempted and successful stolen base attempts.

Embed from Getty Images

This adjustment can only be beneficial to the players and fans of baseball and is another great change made by the league.

The final modification made is the new limits enforced on the shift. Teams will now need four infielders, with two on each side of 2nd base. Teams can add additional infielders by moving outfielders to the infield, but they must have four players within the outer boundary of the infield and two on each side of 2nd base.

Whether or not the league should enforce limits on the shift or not has been one of the most polarizing debates in recent years. However, implementing a limit on the shift allows for pull hitters to be better.

Embed from Getty Images

Being able to hit everywhere on the field is a special skill that makes some hitters special. This change is bad for the league as it encourages players to not work on the craft of hitting everywhere on the field and lowers the skill level of the league.

However, implementing these restrictions on the shift should lead to more hits, making the game even more exciting.

The three revisions by the MLB will make the league more exciting and safer and generally good for the league. While implementing restrictions to the shift will reduce the consequences of being a pull hitter and lowers the skill level of the league, the other changes are significant for the league as they make the games shorter, safer, and more exciting.

Jimmy Thomas is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Why LIV Golf is growing despite the efforts of the PGA Tour

Beginning in May 2020, the PGA Tour saw a massive increase in viewers and attendance. Across the summers of 2020 and 2021, the PGA saw some of its highest TV ratings and a staggering 30% increase in views on NBC. All aspects of business looked good for the league, with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing the growth of golf in the United States.

However, it was not all that pretty on the inside. Players disapproved of the hard-ball tactics by Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner. His unwillingness to assist the stars; the players’ frustration over course rulings painted a negative picture among professional golfers. 

Embed from Getty Images

And so, with the founding of LIV Golf in October 2021, Greg Norman gave players an escape from the harsh and neglectful PGA. He launched the brand with the hopes of signing international stars to participate in the monthly invitationals. Norman found immediate success, signing fifteen of the world’s top 100 players in April. 

Though the more laid-back environment proved a large part of the players’ decisions, Norman received tremendous financial support from the Saudi Arabian government. The kingdom provides all the guaranteed contracts and purse money for each tournament. For players on the bottom tier of professional tours, this supplied a substantial raise from their usually volatile salary. 

All of these factors make life for professional golfers much easier. Usually, players outside the top 100 struggle to obtain fair wages for their families. At most PGA tournaments, the competitors that finish toward the bottom only make about $50,000. If you add tournament entry fees and playing expenses, some players barely squeak by with a profit. However, the LIV Golf tour allows every player to make decent money and support their families.

Embed from Getty Images

In addition, a less-demanding schedule allows older players to spend more time with their families. The PGA Tour only provides a two-week offseason and hosts a tournament every weekend during the season. LIV Golf organizes tournaments once or twice a month, permitting players to go home and see their families.

The simpler and quicker format of LIV Golf makes playing golf more enjoyable for all players. A shotgun start—where everyone tees off at the same time—decreases the amount of time on the course. Players can play five-hour rounds and leave instead of having to wait so long to tee off. 

Embed from Getty Images

Through COVID, the PGA Tour looked to grow the game of golf but did not listen to the needs of its players. However, LIV Golf provided an escape for frustrated competitors and created a more player-friendly atmosphere. They exposed an ignorant organization and gave players a modern, more enjoyable experience on the golf course.

Alex Kwas is a sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

What’s in store for the Orioles this offseason?

Embed from Getty Images

The MLB Playoffs are in full effect, but the Orioles are not involved. The Orioles surprised many this year, going from an abysmal 52-110 record in 2021, to 83-79 in 2022. General Manager Mike Elias has the team going down the rebuilding route, but they seem ahead of schedule. Many top prospects have been called up, such as SS Gunnar Henderson and C Adley Rutschman. The rookies have become an essential part of the lineup, and a huge reason why the O’s have had recent success. The front office made some sneaky good pickups last offseason, like SS Jorge Mateo and SP Jordan Lyles. Both players were snagged on cheap deals and have been very productive down the stretch.

The O’s came alive during a 10-game winning streak in July, and have been consistently winning since. Unfortunately, the Mariners, Blue Jays, and Rays also kept winning, which made the playoff race challenging. Making the playoffs would have been nice, but finishing with a winning record is a huge success. Elias has said he wants to spend in the offseason, but who could he pick up? There are some big names on the market, like Dodgers speedster Trea Turner and Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, but they will likely head elsewhere. The O’s have never been a big spending team, but I expect them to make small additions to improve the team.

Embed from Getty Images

The main focus should be a backup catcher. Starter Adley Rutschman can’t catch every day, and his backup Robinson Chirinos is 38 and on the verge of retirement. Current Rangers catcher Kevin Plawecki would be great for the role. Plawecki provides solid defense, as well as an average bat. The O’s have not had a serviceable backup catcher since Caleb Joseph, who left the team in 2018. Having a backup catcher would be crucial to winning games when Adley needs rest.

Embed from Getty Images

The next concern has to be pitching. Top prospect Grayson Rodriguez is expected to be added to a rotation that overachieved this season. Rodriguez seems to be the long-term ace, but they need an ace now. Dean Kremer and Tyler Wells had solid seasons, but they weren’t consistent. 2022 ace Jordan Lyles will enter free agency and is not expected to return to the team. The pitcher market features some big names, like 3x Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, and Giants All-Star Carlos Rodón. Those two aren’t impossible to acquire, but it will be tough. My choice among the many solid pitchers in free agency would be Michael Wacha of the Red Sox. Wacha has a decent ERA at 3.06, and has been reliable this year, pitching 123.1 innings. Sure, it’s not a flashy signing, but it will get the job done.

Embed from Getty Images

It all depends on what Elias wants to do. He could spend big, or stay conservative. Prospects are what this organization is centered around, not free agents or veterans. The O’s are infamous for trading away big players for prospects yearly. These risky trades often don’t work out, but they have before. So let’s say the Orioles have one of these in the offseason. Who gets traded? The answer should be Austin Hays. While Hays is a great fielder and hitter, the O’s outfield is overloaded, and Hays has been slumping. A new change of scenery would be great for his career. OF Colton Cowser will likely take his spot anyway. It just doesn’t make sense to have a player like Hays on the bench. Hopefully, the front office makes decent decisions that can improve the team, and not hurt it like in past years.

Daniel Hurson is a freshman contributor for The Quill. This is his first published piece.

Are the Ravens cursed?

Embed from Getty Images

In the final preseason game of the year, Poe, the Ravens mascot, got injured in a mascots versus kids game. Following a season plagued by injuries, an injury to the team’s mascot can be seen as a bad omen. Is this a bad omen for the Ravens? Will the Ravens be cursed by injuries once again? Or am I just a crazy kid reading too far into the injury of someone wearing a costume?

Last season, the Ravens dealt with an absurd amount of injuries to essential pieces. Before the season started, the Ravens lost their top 3 Running Backs, former All-Pro Cornerback Marcus Peters, rookie Wide Receiver RaShod Bateman, Offensive Guard Tyre Phillips, and starting Defensive End Derek Wolffe. A solid running back group quickly turned into a trio of misfit free agents and a practice squad player. The Receiving corps and cornerback group were weakened after losing top guys, and all the pressure fell onto Hollywood Brown and Marlon Humphrey, respectively.

However, these preseason injuries were only the beginning of the madness. By week 18, Superstar Quarterback Lamar Jackson, Star Offensive Tackle Ronnie Stanley, Rookie Edge Rusher Odafe Oweh, linebacker LJ Fort, cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett, and safety DeShon Elliot had all joined the list of injured players.

Embed from Getty Images

Many believe that Baltimore would have been a playoff, or even a Superbowl contender with a healthy roster last season. In the 3 years before last season, the Ravens made the playoffs with relatively healthy rosters, and the Ravens had only gotten better. Only the absurd amount of injuries the Ravens suffered could deter such a talented team from making a playoff run. 

What is odd about the number of injuries the Ravens dealt with last season is that they have had the same head strength and conditioning coach for 7 years and haven’t had too many injury issues in the years before last year. In 2020, the Ravens didn’t deal with many injuries despite quarantine taking away their ability to train the way they usually do. Yet, with every passing week, more and more Ravens continued to get injured, and more and more backups were forced into starting roles.

Embed from Getty Images

After such a disappointing season, Ravens fans can only hope that the team is not cursed with injuries. In the offseason, the front office sought to address this issue and bring in more depth. The Ravens bolstered their offensive line by signing Right Tackle Morgan Moses and drafting Center Tyler Linderbaum and Tackle Daniel Faalele. They also signed Safety Marcus Williams, Cornerback Kyle Fuller (injured Week 1 and out for the season), and drafted Safety Kyle Hamilton and Cornerback Pepe Williams to strengthen the secondary.

With multiple starters already out due to injury and the injury to the team’s mascot, it appears as if the Ravens may be cursed. Were the Ravens just cursed last season? Is the injury to Poe a sign of another injury-plagued season? The Ravens are set to be playoff contenders again as long as they stay healthy, so the only question now is whether or not they will remain healthy.

Jimmy Thomas is a senior member of the multimedia journalism class.

How are the Orioles’ prospects handling the pressure of a pennant race?

Embed from Getty Images

Orioles top prospects Gunnar Henderson, DL Hall, and Adley Rutschman have definitely proven their worth in the minors, but some are struggling with the transfer to the big leagues. As many know, the Orioles are in a tight playoff race for the AL wildcard spot. With this being said, they need their young guys to step up. So, is the Orioles’ extent of young talent enough to keep them in the playoff race?

Embed from Getty Images

Shortstop Gunnar Henderson is seeing the ball well at the plate, but is struggling with the fielding transition. His primary position is shortstop; however, to fit in the lineup, he has to adapt to other infield positions. Recently he has been playing second due to other SS Jorge Mateo having an insane fielding year. On Monday, Sep 5, 2022, The Orioles faced a doubleheader against the Blue Jays. This was a huge series for the Orioles which means every play counts. For the youngest player in the MLB, this amount of pressure can get to your head. He started the game at second and cost us a couple of runs. The Orioles had two first and third situations and got perfect double play balls to get out of it without giving up any runs. Gunnar was in his own head and bobbled the ball on both plays.

Original starting pitcher DL Hall, one of our top pitching prospects, played well in the minors with an ERA never exceeding 4. However, in the big leagues, he has an ERA of 8.68 in his MLB career. Hall is definitely struggling in the transition and is having trouble with locating his pitches. With the playoffs coming up and the Orioles needing pitching, DL Hall needs to be better, or he won’t start.

Embed from Getty Images

On the other hand, Adley Rutchsman already looks like a veteran. Adley is batting .257 with 10 home runs in only 89 games. Most of his stats have come from his left side, batting .285 vs. Right handed pitching. However, Adley has been struggling from the right side batting .167. All of his home runs have been from the left side. On the other side of the ball, he looks like a veteran catcher. Very few errors and has been a brick wall behind the plate.

Tyler Martin is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

With just a few weeks left in the season, the O’s control their destiny

Can the Baltimore Orioles pull off one of the greatest team turnarounds in Major League Baseball? After a poor start, as usually expected by the franchise in past years, a smooth winning streak hit the Birds pushing them to a possible Wild Card spot. Before the midway point of May, the Orioles were up to another season of what has been seen as normal for the club in recent years. The Orioles started their season with losing streaks and dropped multi-game series throughout the first month of the season. Baltimore fans expected another losing season for the Birds. Now the O’s are climbing their way up amongst the challenging American League East.

Embed from Getty Images

The AL East is often seen as one of the toughest divisions in Major League Baseball as it holds powerhouse clubs such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. Within this division, the Orioles have been seen as lower caliber. In the previous years games against the Yankees and Red Sox were almost a definite loss, but in the 2022 season, the birds have turned it around. Since May 18, the Orioles have been on a tear with a record over .500. Every game has been a sight to see as the Birds fight their way to the top of the division. Many wonder how this incredible streak started for the Orioles that turned a team that was out of contention into a possible Wild Card. 

Embed from Getty Images

This shift can primarily be credited to the payoff of a very long rebuild by the Orioles since the times of the previous manager Buck Showalter. One of these great payoffs being the extremely talented prospect Adley Rutschman that burst onto the scene in the early parts of the season and quickly became the best catcher in baseball. On May 21, 2022, Adley was called up to the Major Leagues to be the O’s starting catcher. The switch-hitting bat and gifted defensive presence created a young powerhouse in Adley. The Orioles also remade their bullpen, shifting right-handed pitcher Felix Bautista into the closer spot. Bautista has been lights out for the Birds and is seen as one of the best in the league. Finally, the Orioles called up their top infield prospect Gunnar Henderson in August. Henderson started his big league career off strong showing that he’s a stud amongst the top in baseball. His glovework and bat are big pieces of the O’s lineup that are leading them to more and more success.

The talent showcased by the Orioles is unprecedented. This puts the O’s in great contention for a Wild Card spot and possibly an October appearance after many years of missing the playoff. This could bring the big stage to Baltimore and many more cheers to Camden Yards. These are the hopes of any fan of the O’s! All we can ask now is, will the Orioles pull off this comeback? They have it all in front of them; now they just have to execute.

Braylon Sims is a Senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.