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Major League Baseball decides to take it slow with new speed-up rules

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred decided to delay implementation of in-action time limits on pitchers and batters.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred decided to delay implementation of in-action time limits on pitchers and batters. (AP Photo)

Major League Baseball released this year’s pace-of-game rule changes on Monday and they weren’t as invasive as some pundits and players had feared.

Commissioner Rob Manfred decided to delay implementation of a pitch clock and speed-up rules for hitters to give players time to try and speed things up without employing timers.

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That’s the right decision, because it keeps the Major League Baseball Players Association involved in the pace-of-game conversation and gives the union an interest in encouraging players to keep games moving.

It also avoids — at least temporarily — situations where pitchers who do take more time being at a competitive disadvantage while they adjust to the new time limit.

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“The players, we want faster games, too,’’ said Orioles union representatives Darren O’Day, “so maybe it’ll be a little reminder to eliminate some of that dead time. I’m encouraged that there’s not going to be a pitch clock or anything of that sort. It’s good to hear and good know what the rules are going to be for the season.”

The most noticeable change will be a limitation on mound visits by managers, coaches and players to six per game, not including visits to change pitchers.

There are exceptions for injuries and some other circumstances that will be policed by the umpires, but the change will seriously limit multiple conferences between pitchers and catchers during the same inning and reduce coaching visits.

MLB also has tightened the gap between innings for local, national and postseason games, which should shave several minutes off the average time of games.

The delay in the implementation of the on-field speed-up rules is welcome, but it is probably inevitable. Players are creatures of routine and those routines are embedded over years in the minor and major leagues.

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