MLB released changes to the baseball rulebook yesterday, V.2007. Highlights after the jump.
- Time between pitches: The allotment for delivering the ball with no one on base has been reduced, from 20 seconds to 12. The price for each violation is a ball.
- Batter’s box presence: an automatic strike will be assessed each time a batter violates the rule requiring they keep one foot in the batter’s box throughout his at-bat, except for certain game-play conditions — during which he is still not allowed to leave the dirt area surrounding the plate.
- The guidewords for deciding whether to credit a batter with a sacrifice bunt have changed from him being possibly retired on a "perfect play" to "ordinary effort" by the defense.
- No reason for rosin: The same Rule 3.02 now specifically prohibits placing "soil, rosin, paraffin, licorice, sandpaper, emery paper or other foreign substance" on the ball. The rule’s penalty phase dictates, "The umpire shall demand the ball and remove the offender from the game. In addition, the offender shall be suspended automatically for 10 games."
- Potentially most consequential is the manner in which games that end in a tie, due to weather or other uncontrollable elements, will be resolved. While previously such games were considered official and replayed in their entirety from the beginning, hence they will be "suspended" and resumed at the point of stoppage.
We’re especially excited about the prospects of the first two bullet points. Game times are too long, and the idea that an umpire might enforce a pitch clock causes visions of 2-2.5 hour games to dance in our head. We know that the main contributor to slow play is bad pitching and consquently incessant micromanaging of the man on the mound, but we like the sentiment that MLB is exhibiting. Enforcement is the next hurdle: umps have got to do their part with both pitchers and batters. I suppose Big Papi will have to make sure he glove-slaps with a foot in the box at all times. Just as long as they don’t outlaw the gloveslap, we’re ok with the rule. The additional leeway for official scorers with regards to sacrifices seems to be an answer to petulant stars who demand re-scorings over lost batting average. And the final bullet point just seems like common sense. We never liked the idea of a full re-start, despite some logical arguments that might be offered in support of beginning games freshly. More changes can be found at the link above.