The intentional walk

by Steve

Over at wezen-ball there’s some interesting thoughts on the intentional walk in baseball. While some people think the intentional walk is a valid tactic and part of the game, others are of the opinion that it robs baseball of some of its excitement, as the best batters are often walked, so the fans do not see the best batters actually hit.

I guess I should qualify my thoughts here, before I start. I’m by no means a true baseball scholar, having only followed the sport for a few years now, and only really fallen for it in the past year or so. So, the following may well be ill-informed, ill-judged, or just plain factually wrong. But anyway, here goes.

I can’t see a sensible option that avoids/prevents/outlaws the intentional walk. The pitcher’s job is to limit runs, and he’ll do that no matter what. If intentional walks were no longer part of the game, other less obvious tactics to walk a batter would be used. Perhaps a (secretly intentional) wild pitch or passed ball. And once these tactics are a matter of interpretation (did he mean that or not?) we’re in trouble. At least an intentional walk, is obvious…it’s clearly, well, intended.

Also, as a novice fan, and from looking at the success of other sports, I think the simpler the rules of the game, the better. The intentional walk makes sense within the current rules. Adding too many clauses/additions to the rulebook for particular scenarios is just too confusing or alienating for the average fan. While I can see the point of it, how many fans truly understand the infield fly rule? And would anyone want a game made up of even more rules of that nature?