Major League Baseball introduces new rules to speed up their games

Major League Baseball today announced a series of new rules, effective immediately, that aims to quicken the pace of the national pastime.

In a press release distributed on Friday, recently-instated MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, MLB Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark and John Schuerholz, chairman of MLB’s Pace of Game and Instant Replay Committee, outlined several new rules that will alter the timing of each game, including the additional use of a physical timer to previously untimed sport.

Some of the pacing changes include:

  • All batters must keep one foot in the batter’s box at any given time, unless one of a set of pre-specified exceptions occurs.
  • Time limits will be enforced during “non-game action” and game breaks to keep the ballgame on a consistent pace. For example, batters will have a certain amount of time to make it to the plate for their at-bat, pitchers will have a certain amount of time to throw warm-up pitches and there will be a finite time for innings and pitching changes to take effect.
  • Pitchers will be required to deliver their pitch soon after a batter enters the batter’s box and “becomes alert to the pitcher.”
  • Physical timers will be added to each ballpark’s scoreboard, as well as behind home plate, to enforce the specified time limits.

Failure to comply with these rules will prompt fines from the MLB.

In addition to rules associated with attempting to speed up the game, the release also announced new changes to the league’s young instant replay policy. One of the major changes involve team managers being able to call for a replay from their own dugout, instead of needing to walk out to an umpire — which was frequently used as a stalling tactic throughout the 2014 season.

Some of the replay changes include:

  • Managers may signal a challenge from the top step of the dugout instead of approaching an umpire on the field.
  • Whether runners left a base early or tagged a base properly on a tag-up play are now able to be challenged.
  • Violations of the home plate collision rule now require a manager’s challenge to be reviewed. Last season, such a review did not count towards a team’s instant replay count.
  • For every successful challenge, a manager will retain that challenge.
  • Managers will have two challenges per game, instead of the usual one, for postseason games, tiebreakers and the All-Star Game.

The Pace of Game Committee was convened in September to address a concern of baseball executives about the length and pace of ballgames, which during the 2014 season were averaging more than three hours per game for the first time in the sport’s history.

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