Baseball is a game steeped in history and tradition. The National League started up in 1876 and the American League in 1901 — and it’s a testament to baseball’s attachment to custom that interleague play didn’t arrive until 1997. Half the fun of being a serious baseball fan is fighting change.
This season, though, baseball will experiment with an idea that may cause purists to incur dental damage gnashing their teeth. The Atlantic League, an independent minor league affiliated with Major League Baseball, will move the pitcher’s mound back a foot — increasing the distance from the rubber to home plate to 61 feet and 6 inches.
This audacious step is a response to trends that some fans find regrettable. As pitchers have increased their average velocity, strikeouts have soared with twice as many in 2019 (the last full season) as in 1980. As analytic advances have spurred hitters to try to reach the fences rather than settle for singles, the number of home runs has also doubled in the past three decades.