For new readers who don’t know, welcome to “Flashing the Leather,” the sports column dedicated to full-year coverage of hockey and baseball. If you’re a fan of either you will want to stay tuned as I find and report on the most popular or obscure stories in all levels of professional hockey and baseball.
Stanley Cup Winner Takes a Hack at Comedy
Five-year NHL goalie Scott Darling has found a new passion in life at the age of 33. After spending three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and two with the Carolina Hurricanes, Darling has been able to look at his retirement in a whole new light.
“Who would be the most surprised to hear that I am doing this… anybody I played hockey with, any of my teammates,” Darling said during an interview with SiriusXM NHL Network Radio. “I was quiet, man, I stared at my shoelaces, kind of kept to myself just because I’m like an anxious, nervous person and I just wanted to be there and do my job.”
Darling started his comedy career after being recognized as a former Blackhawk at a show by comedian Ray Wisbrock. The famous comedian, being star-struck, asked Darling to open for him at a show and the rest is history.
The 2015 hero at the net has truly found a way to pass time in his retirement. After having the games of his life against the Nashville Predators by stopping all 42 shots in play during Game 1 and 50 saves in overtime in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup, Darling has been able to succeed off the ice as a stand-up comedian.
MLB Approves New Rule Changes for 2023
As of Friday, Sept. 9, MLB has officially approved new rules for the beginning of the 2023 season, including a pitch timer, shift ban, and bigger bases.
The pitch clock will be 15 seconds when no runners are on base and 20 seconds when a runner(s) is on base. This is meant to cut the game time down, which has ruffled the feathers of many baseball fans. The idea behind this is to promote a shorter time per game to new fans who may have shorter attention spans. However, this may turn away fans with traditional mindsets of wanting to watch a full baseball game without alterations.
The defensive shift will officially be banned starting in 2023 and is meant to benefit the hitters, specifically left-handed batters, who struggle to hit on the opposite side of the field.
Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona shared his thoughts about the shift.
“I do worry about the shifting thing that – you’ve heard me say it before – the unintended consequences. Like, you are rewarding guys that just pull the ball instead of trying to get back to using the whole field?” Francona said, according to an MLB.com piece. “I keep hearing people say, ‘Guys are tired of hitting into the shift.’ Then hit the ball the other way. There are solutions than just lift and separate. But that’s just my opinion. It doesn’t matter. We’re going to adjust.”
The last set of rules includes increasing the base size and limiting how many times a pitcher can pickoff in an inning. The bigger bases are meant to increase the number of stolen bases and decrease the number of injuries, while the pickoff limitation to two per inning is meant to speed up the game.
Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch commented on the size of the bases.
“At initial blush, I’m not sure that there’s going to be this massive stolen base increase unless you increase the athleticism on your team,” Hinch said to MLB.com. “If you have a slow team, you can’t just steal bases because of a pickoff rule. You have to have guys that can get jumps and outrun the ball.”
All in all, the MLB will have its hands full when it comes to complaints about changing the game, especially this upcoming season. Good luck to their PR team when they officially decide to bring the automated ball-strike system to the major league level.
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