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Baseball is instituting new rules, and they are not totally stupid

The Commish is full of wacky ideas, but these actually make sense.

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Major League Baseball has announced new rule changes, most of them meant to improve the pace of play in the game. There is no stupid “runners begin at second base in extra inning” rule, no wacky uprooting of the game, just tiny tweaks. Let’s take a look at the changes.

  • The start of a no-pitch intentional walk, allowing the defensive team’s manager to signal a decision to the home plate umpire to intentionally walk the batter. Following the signal of the manager’s intention, the umpire will immediately award first base to the batter.

I wrote my objection to this before, and while I still think it is stupid, ultimately it is not that big of a deal. An intentional walk happens just once every 2.6 games, and the chances of something amazing happening like this is pretty rare. It seems like managers will have the option to make the signal and could still decide to have the pitcher toss four balls in the “unintentional intentional walk” if they choose.

  • A 30-second limit for a manager to decide whether to challenge a play and invoke replay review.

When baseball first instituted replay, it seemed like most of the rules around it were pretty loosey-goosey. Now we get some clarity. Instead of the players hemming and hawing after a close play to stall in time for guys like Bill Duplissea to check the replay in order to decide whether or not to challenge, managers are on the clock. When that clock starts and who runs it is unclear at this point, but having some kind of limit should help move things along.

  • When a manager has exhausted his challenges for the game, Crew Chiefs may now invoke replay review for non-home run calls beginning in the eighth inning instead of the seventh inning.

This is some of the loosey-goosiness I am talking about with replay. Why do we allow umpires to just use replay whenever they want in the late innings? I understand that we want umpires to get the call right, but it seems like allowing their discretion has the potential for abuse. What gets one call reviewed but another not? At least this new rule change will limit the innings that allow this kind of discretion but I would like to see more clarity from baseball on this.

  • A conditional two-minute guideline for Replay Officials to render a decision on a replay review, allowing various exceptions.

This sounds great, but if there are “exceptions”, I don’t see them adhering to this all that much.

  • A prohibition on the use of any markers on the field that could create a tangible reference system for fielders.

The Dodgers were doing this last year, using friggin’ laser beams and markers to help their outfielders with defensive positioning until the Mets complained and MLB stepped in. Now the practice will be officially banned, although I’m not quite sure why. What is so bad about an outfielder putting a marker on the field? Would it help if he used a Game of Thrones logo?

  • An addition to Rule 5.07 formalizes an umpire interpretation by stipulating that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is at least one runner on base, then such an action will be called as a balk under Rule 6.02(a). If the bases are unoccupied, then it will be considered an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).

This is the Carter Capps rule. Capps is a reliever for the Padres who has a unique “hop-step” delivery that has been in a gray area as far as legality, since he is not on the rubber when he delivers the pitch. This rule clarifies that his delivery that the pitch is definitely illegal.

  • An amendment to Rule 5.03 requires base coaches to position themselves behind the line of the coach’s box closest to home plate and the front line that runs parallel to the foul line prior to each pitch. Once a ball is put in play, a base coach is allowed to leave the coach’s box to signal a player so long as the coach does not interfere with play.

Sure, fine. I didn’t know this was a big issue, but I can see them wanting to protect coaches safety since the tragic death of Mike Coolbaugh.

What do you think of the new rules? What does baseball still need to do?