Earlier today Major League Baseball announced that they were going back to the previously held interpretation of the transfer rule. Our long national nightmare is over at last! Ok, perhaps it wasn’t that bad, but it certainly wasn’t great.
At the beginning of this season, MLB resolved to change the way the game had been played for the last century and a half. The new ruling was that a player had to catch a ball and not drop it even when transferring it to his throwing hand. If the player dropped the ball during transfer it would no longer be a catch. This was done in an attempt to provide consistency and to respond to the new instant replay capacity.
Starting today MLB has gone back to the way it has always done things. If you catch the ball, it’s a catch. If you drop the ball while transferring it to your throwing hand then it’s still a catch.
Perhaps the transfer rule didn’t need changing. MLB may have been overly cautious about the affect that instant reply would have on the sport. Adding instant replay was a big enough change to adjust to. Changing a long-held rule like the transfer rule was neither needed nor wanted.
When the NFL ruled that you had to maintain possession of the ball when you hit the ground it was certainly met with some unhappiness (all changes are to some extent) but not to the degree that the MLB rule change was. We will forgive MLB for this misstep and continue to appreciate baseball for the gloriously historical, exciting, infuriating, and wonderful sport that we know it to be.