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Eliminate the shift?

January 29th, 2015

As I was sitting in the newsroom deciding what my column was going to be about, I was pretty certain it was going to be something that dealt with the Super Bowl.

 

I mean, how could it not be? It’s the biggest sporting event of the year, and there’s even more controversy than ever with “Deflategate.”

 

But then, the new MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred, released a statement about what he wanted to focus on as the new head of the MLB.

 

Most of it seemed reasonable, until he said he would consider banning defensive shifts in the MLB.

 

Are you serious?

 

That is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.

 

It may seem like I’m overreacting – and who knows, maybe I am. But I just cannot fathom how ridiculous that sounds.

 

I understand that fans like to see hits, and batters get upset when defenses shift to where they hit it most. But in my opinion, none of that matters.

 

By eliminating shifts, you’re eliminating strategy.

 

That’s like getting rid of zone defense in basketball or eliminating blitzing in football. Why would you ever eliminate a strategy?

 

It’s not even like it’s completely unbeatable, all it takes is for the batter to hit it where people are not and you beat the shift. It’s relatively simple.

 

One of the biggest names in the game against the shift has been left-handed hitter David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox.

 

He’s been quoted on multiple occasions criticizing the shift, saying it’s the defense’s fault if they can’t stop him.

 

In my opinion, Big Papi should be the one receiving criticism. If the defensive shift leaves literally the entire left side of the infield open, and he cannot hit it opposite field no matter how hard he tries, that’s on him as a hitter.

 

I know I’m ranting. But I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. It’s not like defensive shifting is cheating – it’s just smart.

 

If a guy hits it in the same area, you cover that area with more people.

 

If a quarterback doesn’t handle pressure well, you blitz him.

 

If a player can’t shoot free throws, you foul him instead of giving up an easy bucket.

 

There’s a reason we have coaches and statisticians in sports.

 

The players play the game, but there’s people behind the scenes who make everything easier.

 

Those people use strategy.

 

If you don’t want strategy, go play some pick-up ball somewhere.

 

This is the pros, and if you can’t adjust to the changes in the game, maybe it’s time to hang it up.