Adrian Beltre’s likely Hall of Fame career spanned from 1998 to 2018. He played when the sport was at peak popularity but had also seen its struggles.
Amid Major League Baseball’s latest rule changes, Beltre wants to see the game grow globally. That’s why he’s teamed up with Mariano Rivera and Barry Larkin as an investor in Baseball United, west Asia’s first professional baseball league.
The league has rules that might make baseball purists’ heads spin. If a home run is hit with a “money ball,” double the runs are scored.
Beltre blasted 477 homers in his career and is one of 12 players in the 3,000 hit, 400 home run club. Perhaps he could have reached 2,000 RBI if he had a money ball. He had 1,707 for his career.
The former Texas Ranger said joining Baseball United and expanding the game on the other side of the globe is “something special.” However, he is “not a big fan” of pitch clocks, larger bases and shift limits in MLB, even though it’s an initiative to regain popularity in North America.
“I can consider myself kind of old school. I’m all about getting players ready to do your job,” Beltre said in a recent interview with Fox News Digital. “I understand it’s some players that take too long to pitch, too long to bat. That’s a small percentage of players. It’s not their fault.
“Ninety-five percent of the players, normally, they get in, they get out in normal time. I understand what they’re doing. They’re trying to get the game to go a little faster. But if you ask me, honest question, I’d rather just play the game the way it is. But it is what it is. People try to innovate. MLB’s trying to bring more fans to it and make it more exciting for the fans.”
Major League Baseball is trying to shorten games by a half hour. Last season, the average nine-inning game lasted three hours and three minutes, and the average length hasn’t been under three hours since 2015 (2:56). You have to go back to 1978 to the last time the average game took less than 2½ hours.
But the five-time Gold Glove Award winner is skeptical of how much time would actually be saved.
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“How much time are you saving? You’re going through all these changes. They played the game for 100 years the same, to save five, 10 minutes maybe, out of the game? Because they’ve been doing too many changes for the last 10 years to save two to five minutes. It’s not a big difference when you’re making so many changes.”
The pitch clock shortened minor league games by about 26 minutes last season, according to a report by MLB.com. The league hopes larger bases and a ban of shifts will bring more action to the base paths and more hits and stolen bases.
Beltre will be eligible for baseball’s Hall of Fame next year.
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