Major League Baseball has introduced several rule changes to speed up the game’s pace of play, starting in 2015. These rule changes are significant and will shorten the length of games.
The rule changes require that managers stay in the dugout during challenges/replay reviews, hitters keep one foot in the batters box during their at-bats, a quick return to play after TV timeouts end, and a time limit on pitching changes.
If a player or manager violates any of these new rules they will receive a warning. Anyone who has broken the rules flagrantly (intentionally) will receive a $500 fine from the leagues. Both MLB and the players union have decided they don’t want to bring on huge penalties against the players and managers; instead they want to change habits.
For the timed pitching changes, and breaks between innings, pitchers will have 30 seconds to complete their eight warm-up pitches. If they are unable to complete their warm-up pitches within those 30 seconds, they forfeit their remaining pitches.
These rule changes are designed to help the league limit the extra delays created by players and managers throughout the game. By forcing managers to stay in the dugout, MLB is preventing managers from delaying the game by arguing with umpires while the tape is reviewed by team employees. Those delays were easily the worst part of baseball’s new replay system, and it’s good to see a fix implemented by the league.
It’ll be interesting to see how batters deal with the requirement to keep one foot inside the batters box throughout the at-bat. Currently, batters will often step out of the box to delay the pitch and allow the to make sure they saw the third base coach’s signal properly. Now they’ll have to keep their foot in the box at all times, which means the pitcher can deliver the pitch at any moment. While this does change how hitters approach their at-bats, it is a smart change that will probably improve the game’s pace.
As part of the rule changes announced on Friday, managers will still have a challenge if their first challenge is successful.