Saturday, February 21, 2015

Major League Baseball Adopts New Rules to Speed Up Play

Batters can't step out of the box, among other tweaks to speed things along.

At WSJ, "Baseball Adopts New Rules to Speed Up Play":
Major League Baseball announced new rules Friday aimed at speeding up the plodding pace of its games. Beginning this season, hitters will be required to keep one foot in the batter’s box during at-bats and managers will no longer be required to leave the dugout to challenge calls.

The league will also introduce timers between innings and during pitching changes, requiring pitchers to complete their warm-ups 30 seconds before the end of the break in play. Hitters will be encouraged to step into the box 20 seconds before play is set to resume, coinciding with the time broadcasters return from commercials.

The rules are intended to reduce the lulls between game action, after the average length of nine-inning games reached a record-high 3 hours, 2 minutes in 2014.

“These changes represent a step forward in our efforts to streamline the pace of play,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement released by the league. “The most fundamental starting point for improving the pace of the average game involves getting into and out of breaks seamlessly. In addition, the batter’s box rule will help speed up a basic action of the game.”

Batters will still be allowed to step out of the box if one of several exceptions occurs, most notably if the batter swings at a pitch. And managers can hold play from the top step of the dugout by signaling to players and the home-plate umpire that he is considering a challenge. But if nothing else, the new rules should reduce the time it takes to go from the end of a commercial break to the resumption of play...
Well, during the long, hot days of summer, I personally enjoy the easy-going pace of the game. Hopefully these reforms don't kill the vibe.

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