CLEVELAND -- MLB made three major changes to the Futures Game this year -- two good, one just awful. The game is now at 7 p.m. ET, so it doesn't compete with teams' final games before the All-Star break. It's also now an American League versus National League affair, rather than a game pitting a roster of U.S.-born players against those born outside the 50 states. The World team often ran short of pitching, resulting in some unfortunate blowouts in the past few years.
Unfortunately, MLB decided to shorten this game to seven innings from the usual nine, which I don't think benefits anybody. We'll see fewer players in the game, they'll play less, fans who aren't familiar with the game will wonder why on earth the game ended after seven innings, and scouts here to evaluate players get even briefer looks. (The scouts in attendance also ended up with seats well offline from the regular scouts' section behind the plate, which makes me wonder if teams will simply stop sending them in the future.)
As it turned out, the players conspired to still give us eight innings, as Sam Huff hit a mammoth two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game 2-2, which is how things ended after one more inning. But it was a showcase for pitchers Sunday night -- Huff had the only homer, and there was only one other extra-base hit in the game. Pitching, especially velocity, ruled the day.