Ever since Rob Manfred became commissioner before the start of the 2015 campaign, Major League Baseball has introduced a couple of rules. MLB started changing a year before Manfred took over as replay reviews were introduced to help umpires. Last year, they implemented the two-minute between innings rule and the controversial slide rule. Starting next month, you will see some small but noticeable changes to speed up play, which Manfred takes to heart.
The most radical change is when teams want to intentionally walk batters. For decades, pitchers would have to throw four balls out of the strike zone to initiate the walk. That is going away. Instead, managers will signal to the home plate umpire that they want an intentional walk and then it will be granted. Supposedly, this will bring down pitcher’s pitch counts while saving some stamina. In Manfred’s mind, the rule, which will take away the possibility of an odd play if the ball misfires, will speed up the game.
MLB wants the replay system to be a faster process, and they have a rule for that now. The replay review will have three extra steps to speed it up because some replays lasted longer than eight minutes. The first change is that managers will have only 30 seconds to request for the play to be looked at. Secondly, managers will be able to ask for a challenge through the 7th inning. Lastly, there will be a light guideline in which umpires get just two minutes to make the correct call.
A third rule change actually has been a rule and will make the third base coaching box actually necessary now! MLB is asking coaches to stay in their designated areas until the ball is in play. They want umpires to be more strict this year at keeping coaches where they are supposed to be. With the implementation of base coach helmets a couple of years ago, this rule is just another safety mechanism.
The one rule that was discussed and not issued for 2017 was a 20-second pitch clock, which would create some awkwardness, in my opinion. That timer would immediately start as soon as the pitcher gets the ball back from the catcher. I feel that wrinkle would be too extreme and should never be part of MLB, although they are experiencing with the system in the minor leagues and Manfred wants it in the big leagues one day!
The new laws of the game, which were approved on March 2, are not game changers, but I am a little surprised by the no-pitch walk rule. I do not understand why pitchers cannot throw four easy pitches to the catcher and if they think they are saving pitchers’ arms, those are soft tosses that should not even be counted as real pitchers. Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven always says pitchers are the best players on the field. Apparently, MLB does not think so, as they want pitchers to save energy for “real” pitches. With the other rules, it will be nice for faster reviews and it will be great to see the coaching boxes be used again!
To read more about the new tweaks, click here. Please tell us what you think of the changes!
Written by: Michael L. Sack