'Field like Ozzie. Run Like Rickey:' Watch MLB ads to promote new rules
Never mind a clinic on the new rules, or even a list of them. Major League Baseball launched a multimedia ad campaign Thursday to get the point across, invoking two Hall of Famers whose distinguished careers peaked four decades ago.
Back to the future, if you will.
“This is the game we all want to see,” actor Bryan Cranston says in one spot. “Get the ball, pitch the ball. Keep the defense on their toes.
“Field like Ozzie. Run like Rickey.
“So get that shift out of here. Free up the players to put on a show.”
Ozzie Smith is best remembered for his acrobatic fielding, a skill MLB hopes will be enhanced by restrictions on defensive shifts.
Rickey Henderson, the all-time leader in stolen bases, stole between 41 and 130 bases in every season of the 1980s. Jon Berti of the Miami Marlins led the majors with 41 steals last season; only five players stole more than 30.
In 1980, when Henderson led the majors with 100 stolen bases, 22 players stole more than 30. MLB hopes the combination of bigger bases — a shorter run between bases — and limitations on pickoff throws can revive the running game.
The pitch clock is the third big change, with the MLB ads all using the slogan: “Three New Rules. More Great Action.”
MLB featured players in some of its ads, including Cincinnati Reds icon Joey Votto in one, and Chicago White Sox star Tim Anderson and San Diego Padres standout Blake Snell in another.
The rule changes, tested and refined in the minor leagues over the last several years, were implemented in spring training this year. The results, according to the league: batting averages are up, stolen bases are up and game time is down — by 24 minutes.
In 1988, a year in which the Dodgers won the World Series, the Dodgers lost their opener 5-1 in 2 hours 24 minutes. Last year, the Dodgers lost their opener 5-3 in 3 hours 9 minutes.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.