MLB rule changes: Robo umps, shift banning, gambling are coming

Welcome to The Opener, where every weekday morning during the regular season you’ll get a fresh, topical column to start your day from one of SI.com’s MLB writers.

“The most immediate and pressing need is to revive the public’s flagging interest, to recapture affections which baseball has studiously alienated, to reverse the game’s downward trend in competition for the entertainment dollar.” – Red Smith, Dec. 10, 1968

Baseball has been here before. It may have stepped back from the edge of a work-stop cliff this season, but it remains in the peril. As in 1968, the dulling of its product has eroded its fan base and that hard-to-define but easily recognized currency of entertainment known as “buzz.”

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