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2013 Preview: what’s new in the new season?

Mar 28, 2013, 1:31 PM EDT

New look Astros

For the past few days we’ve been previewing the 2013 season. Next up: new things to watch for in the coming year.

We’ve previewed the teams, so now let’s look at some of the new things to watch for in 2013:

Rules changes

Nothing too drastic, but the changes that were made will be pretty visible:

  • When visiting the mound, managers and coaches will be allowed to bring interpreters with them in the event the pitcher is not fluent in English. No word on whether Phillies pitchers gets interpreters to translate manager Charlie Manuel’s 1940s detective novel slang-speak (hint: “what’s the rumpus?” is Manuelese for “how does your arm feel?” and “give this guy the kiss-off” is when he orders an intentional walk;
  • Teams will be allowed to have seven uniformed coaches in the dugout. Previously the limit was six. This change was necessitated because many teams have hired assistant hitting coaches. Which I suppose was simpler than spending the effort trying to figure out what the existing hitting coaches actually do in the first place; and
  • The pickoff move in which a right-handed pitcher fakes to third base and throws to first is now a balk. Broadcasters are now scrambling to find another oftentimes useful play which they can erroneously claim “never works.”

Schedule changes

With the Houston Astros going from the National League to the American League, giving us 15 teams in each league, it will now be required that, at all times, an interleague series be taking place. This contrasts with past practice of interleague series all occurring during specified blocs during the season. This will also lead to teams playing 20 interleague games a piece instead of the 15-18 interleague games in previous years. There will still be the old construct of “interleague rivals” which in good cases lead to series like Yankees vs. Mets and Giants vs. Athletics. And in bad cases lead to Pirates vs. Tigers and Astros vs. Rockies. Eh, this is where we are now. Those of us who remember and pine for the days of the NL and AL being separate are closer to AARP membership than we are to relevance in this now-over debate.

New Managers

Six teams will sport new managers in 2013:

  • The Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine and hired former Blue Jays manager John Farrell;
  • The Indians fired Manny Acta and hired former Red Sox manager Terry Francona;
  • Jim Tracy resigned as Colorado Rockies manager and was replaced by rookie manager Walt Weiss;
  • The Astros fired Brad Mills before last season ended and hired former Nationals coach Bo Porter;
  • The Marlins fired Ozzie Guillen after one season and replace him with rookie manager Mike Redmond; and
  • The Blue Jays essentially traded John Farrell to the Red Sox and hired former manager John Gibbons

Uniform changes

  • The Astros, befitting a team with a new owner, new front office, new manager, new league and a throughly-reamed roster, have a whole new look. Gone are the brick red/sand colored uniforms of old and back come the traditional orange and blue the team sported from their inception and on through the early 90s. There’s a bit of a twist to the orange and blue look — they’re not throwbacks to the rainbow days — but it is definitely a familiar and welcome look;
  • The Mets are going with two new alternate jerseys: a home alternate with “Mets” in script and a road alternate featuring “NEW YORK” in block. These look at lot like the 1980s duds.
  • The Cardinals are joining the trend of off-white home alternates which almost always look fantastic. They are also adding “St. Louis” to their road uniforms for the first time in 80 years. All teams should have their city name on the front of the jersey. It’s just cool. And frankly, probably leads to more jersey sales due to local pride and stuff like that.
  • The Pirates have a new home alternate for Sunday games. It’s essentially a throwback to their look from the 1970s, complete with the yellow caps.
  • The White Sox continue last year’s tradition of an alternate throwback uniform. This year it honors the 1983 team. This is a guilty pleasure uniform for me even though it came from the dark days of the pullover double knits; and
  • The Brewers are going to go all-gold on special occasions which they used a couple years ago but had abandoned for a while.

Of course, for all the changes, it will still be baseball.

  1. Old Gator - Mar 28, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Well, it will be baseball for fifteen teams most of the time. It will be that degraded, dumbed-down thing called designatedhitterball for the other fifteen, except when they play in National League parks and the manager actually has to think his way through the late innings. I hope there are no spikes in the TIA rate because of that.

    • Joe - Mar 28, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      Those need to be even numbers.

    • El Bravo - Mar 28, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      This comment is supported by El Bravo, candidate for nothing.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      Another one falls. Wahahahaha!

    • American of African Descent - Mar 28, 2013 at 5:05 PM

      If we were back in 1986, I would credit the national-league-baseball-is-real-baseball argument. (I wouldn’t buy the argument, but I would credit the argument.) But pitch counts has led to the regimenting of bullpens. We now have sixth inning guys, seventh inning guys, eighth inning guys, left handed specialists, right handed specialists, and the closer — in short, the strategy portion is fading away. No longer is Davey Johnson faced with the question of letting Gooden hit with two on, two out in the bottom of the seventh in a one run game. In 2013, the issue is pitch count, not continuing effectiveness.

      Besides, give me professional pitchers trying to get out professional hitters any day.

      • Old Gator - Mar 28, 2013 at 11:23 PM

        You give me a long list of options facing a manager and then claim that the strategy aspect is fading away. How the rise of late inning specialists argues for the monotony and boredom of the designated hitter is kinda lost on me, I’m afraid. And yes, Davey is still confronted with whether to leave in a pitcher or hit for him in the late innings, as well as when to substitute pitchers during the opponent’s at bats. And of course there’s also the rise of the gimpy, lousy-fielding, over the hill, sore-kneed one-dimensional ballplayer who fills the DH position, which demeans all other ballplayers who try to be complete athletes. Sorry, I don’t buy any of that.

    • thegreatstoneface - Mar 28, 2013 at 5:22 PM

      willful ignorance is incredibly sexy and attractive, mate…

  2. stex52 - Mar 28, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    I’m with you on the assistant hitting coach Craig. Most of the time I’m not sure what the first one is doing.

    • El Bravo - Mar 28, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      duh, supplying PEDs in the buttcheek

  3. kjericho43 - Mar 28, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    As with every year:

    can
    not
    wait
    for opening day.

  4. 1981titan - Mar 28, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Craig, As an Angel fan I think your idea of the city name on the road jerseys as completley impractrical, silly and confusing in the Angels case. What would it say “Los Angeles of Anaheim”, “South of Los Angeles” or just “Somewhere near Los Angeles”. Obviously not a problem for all the other teams, but Arte Moreno’s geography is not bvery good.

    • 1981titan - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:01 PM

      Neither is my typing. Arte Moreno’s Geography is not very good.

    • gza385 - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      Why not just “Los Angeles”? They’re always referred to as the Los Angeles Angels anyway, even on their own website. Besides, plenty of teams don’t actually play in the city they are named after. Look at the Tampa Bay Rays for example.

      • kopy - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:25 PM

        The Angels have a requirement to keep the name “Anaheim” in the name. How that became an agreement, I’m not sure, but the city of Anaheim took a long time to drop a lawsuit taking issue with the current name. Adding “Los Angeles” to the road uniforms could stoke the fire.

        That said, I love the tradition of having nicknames on home unis, and location on the road. It’s a nod to the days of informing the visiting crowd where you are from. Although, for casual fans at the park, it’s still informative!

      • asimonetti88 - Mar 28, 2013 at 3:56 PM

        They aren’t referred to the Los Angeles Angels at Angels Stadium. It may have changed this year but I’ve never actually seen them referred to the “Los Angeles Angels” at the stadium. They don’t play in Los Angeles anyway so it doesn’t make sense for them to be called that!

      • tellyspop - Mar 29, 2013 at 9:42 AM

        I would prefer Tampa to be known as the “Conch Republic Rays” if we are going to to be named after areas we don’t actually originate from.

    • jlovenotjlo - Mar 28, 2013 at 6:53 PM

      I’ve always thought “Orange County Angels” would be cool. Just a passing thought..

  5. bmorelikeme - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    The new rule regarding the balk is going to have big implications to the game. Instead of me trying to explain my thoughts, I’ll just reference Buck Showalter, who knows way more about baseball than me anyway.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/buck-showalter-baltimore-orioles-manager-balks-at-new-pickoff-rule-021713

    Summary: more steals.

    • 1981titan - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:56 PM

      This is an ill advised rule change. I agree with Buck’s analysis completly. If the intention of the rules committee is to eliminate the intent to decieve runners, eliminate the ability of lefties to lift their right leg and go to first, or at least enforce the current balk rule when they move the right leg toward the plate and still go to first.

      • Old Gator - Mar 28, 2013 at 11:27 PM

        Frankly, I don’t see what the game gains by eliminating the intent or practice of deceiving runners. It’s part of the mind game of baseball and this rule is just another dumbing-down of the game – not nearly as much of a dumbdown as the designated hitter, mind you, but just a little extra flick of the lobotomy knife to make sure the patient stays stupid all season long.

  6. historiophiliac - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Also, every team will be assigned a cell phone liaison from T-Mobile (and NO, it is not the motorcycle girl). Televised games will have designated technical time outs for instances where bullpen calls are dropped. There will be no penalties for these delays. Irritated fans can text SMUG-BUD to register delay complaints with an unmanned customer spurning hotline. Triple data charges will apply. MLB appreciates your feedback. To replay this message, send a letter with a self-addressed stamped envelope enclosed to Bud Selig c/o General Delivery, Milwaukee WI 1952.

    • natslady - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      1,000 LOLs for that one!

    • proudlycanadian - Mar 28, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      T-Moblile is not licensed in Canada and the Jays are owned by a cable/cell phone company.

      • Old Gator - Mar 28, 2013 at 11:28 PM

        T-Mobile automatically roams to Rogers in Toronto, at least, who pile a hefty service fee onto T-Mobile calls for the privilege.

      • dirtyharry1971 - Mar 30, 2013 at 2:57 AM

        nobody cares outside of canada, just like your baseball team old man!!

  7. sportsdrenched - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Basebaw!

  8. runteddyrun - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    No shout out for the Nats new alternate hat that will be worn with the red jerseys?

  9. evanwins - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    Meanwhile, umpires can still suck at their job with impunity, knowing they can do whatever they like and suffer absolutely no consequences. This, of course, exists in the face of literally hundreds of options that are not only viable but would have no real negative impact on the game itself.

    • scoocha - Mar 28, 2013 at 11:37 PM

      Right on Evan. I’ve been saying this for years but Bud refuses to do anything about it. Can this be one of the options – train new umpires while the Umpires’ CBA plays out and then replace the old with the new once the CBA contract is over?

  10. sdelmonte - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    One note about the rejiggered interleague play. The two weekends that the Mets and Yanks played has been scaled back to four games Memorial Day week. two at each park. This pleases me since the levels of media hype will be lower, and probably pleases viewers of ESPN who really didn’t want to watch that meeting on Sunday Night Baseball.

  11. kw27p - Mar 28, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    How about getting rid of the absolute worst thing maybe in all of pro sports(ok 2nd to the existence of the pro bowl) is the allstar game winner= home field advantage tragedy???

  12. buffalomafia - Mar 28, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    How about picking up the pace in the game? These batters like Jeter do all this monkeying around outside batters box has to stop! No way a game should take 3 boreing hours! Hell I like baseball but come on speed it up boys! Go Yanks!

    • rythestunner - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      If you wanna talk about monkeying around, look at football. Football games are the same 3 hours in length, yet the actual time of play is only 1 hour. And a large part of that 1 hour is running clock anyway.

      You act like baseball games are the only ones that go for 3 hours.

  13. crnvic847 - Mar 28, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    @asimonetti

    Neither do the Rays. And if you look at other pro sports leagues there are quite a few teams that sport the big city name it represents but doesn’t actually play within the city limits (or within the state in some instances.)

    • Old Gator - Mar 28, 2013 at 11:31 PM

      The Rays aren’t named after any city, but for Tampa Bay, which is not a municipality but a geographical feature which denotes the entire region they’re supposed to represent.

  14. mediocrebob - Mar 28, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    God I hate that Nats fans are speaking up now.

  15. jlovenotjlo - Mar 28, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    How about an update on new park dimensions, as well as which parks will feature an Amway this season. Trying to plan a baseball road trip thanks

  16. rockymountainoysters - Mar 28, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    “St. Louis” is going on the front of the alternate Cardinals jersey which will only be worn at home, the road grays will still say “Cardinals”

  17. Old Gator - Mar 28, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Macondo Banana Massacre Field represents the state of mind that the Feesh inhabit, not any municipality in particular.

  18. a125125125 - Mar 29, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Fake to third, throw to first is “oftentimes useful?” Seriously? Have you ever watched a baseball game? EVER?

    • mckludge - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      Yeah, yeah, it never works. Except when it actually does. I’ve seen it work at least once.

      It would be interesting to look at the ratio of the “fake to third throw to first (FTTTTF) attempt” to “FTTTTF resulting in a pickoff/rundown” just to compare it to the ratio of “throws to base” to “actually picked the runner off or caught him in a rundown.”

      According to Baseball Prospectus, only 2.62% of throws to first actually result in a pickoff. Sure, some throws to first are token throws, not really intented to pickoff a runner but instead to “keep him honest,” but that’s a subjective call. Would the FTTTTF “success” percentage be a lot different, seeing as how FTTTTF doesn’t happen very often, where throws to first happen pretty much every game?

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