Mar 31, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Home plate umpire John Hirschbeck (17) and first base umpire Bob Davidson (right) consult the replay in the tenth inning of the contest between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates in an opening day baseball game at PNC Park. The Pirates won 1-0 in ten innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball purists will definitely cringe in pain when they realize that Major League Baseball is testing out new and controversial new rules during this year’s Arizona Fall League’s schedule this winter.
While we are still debating the use of replay in baseball and there is an ongoing discussion about the height of the pitching mound, the rules being considered are meant to speed up the pace of the game. The rules are reproduced from the Arizona Fall League’s web site.
01. 20-Second Rule
A modified version of Rule 8.04, which discourages unnecessary delays by the pitcher, shall apply. Rule 8.04 requires the pitcher to deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball with the bases unoccupied. The penalty prescribed by Rule 8.04 for a pitcher’s violation of the Rule is that the umpire shall call “Ball.”
In the AFL games at Salt River, a clock will be displayed in both dugouts, behind home plate, and in the outfield. A pitcher shall be allowed 20 seconds to throw each pitch. The batter must be in the box prepared for the pitch during the entire 20-second period. If the batter steps out of the box during the 20-second period, the pitcher may deliver the pitch and the umpire may call a strike, unless the batter was first granted time by the umpire.
The clock will stop only when the pitcher begins his motion to deliver the ball (and not “when the pitcher releases the ball” as prescribed in Rule 8.04). Beginning the motion of coming to the set position shall be sufficient to stop the clock. If the pitcher maintains possession of the ball without beginning his pitching motion for more than 20 seconds, the Umpire shall call “Ball.”
02. Batter’s Box Rule
The batter shall keep at least one foot in the batter’s box throughout his at-bat, unless one of a series of established exceptions occurs, in which case the batter may leave the batter’s box but not the dirt area surrounding home plate. (Exceptions include a foul ball or a foul tip; a pitch forcing the batter out of the batter’s box; “time” being requested and granted; a wild pitch or a passed ball; and several others.)
03. No-Pitch Intentional Walks
In the event a team decides to intentionally walk a batter, no pitches shall be thrown. Instead, the manager shall signal to the home plate umpire with four fingers, and the batter should proceed to first base to become a runner.
04. 2:05 Inning Break Clock
There shall be a maximum 2:05 break between innings. Hitters must enter the batter’s box by the 1:45 mark. When batters violate this rule, the Umpire may call an automatic strike. When batters are set by the appropriate time and pitchers fail to throw a pitch before the conclusion of the 2:05 period, the Umpire shall call a ball.
05. 2:30 Pitching Change Break Clock
There shall be a maximum 2:30 break for pitching changes, including pitching changes that occur during an inning break. The first pitch must be thrown before the conclusion of the 2:30 period or the umpire shall call a ball. The clock shall start when the new pitcher enters the playing field (i.e., crosses the warning track, or foul line).
06. Three “Time Out” Limit
Each team shall be permitted only three “Time Out” conferences per game (including extra innings). Such conferences shall include player conferences with the pitcher (including the catcher), manager or coach conferences with the pitcher, and coach conferences with a batter. Conferences during pitching changes, and time outs called as a result of an injury or other emergency, shall not be counted towards this limit. A manager, coach or player will not be permitted to call a fourth time out in violation of this Rule. In such cases, the game will continue uninterrupted, and offenders may be subject to discipline.
For some of our fans, these new rules will speed up the game and make the pastime so much more interesting. For others, it amounts to blasphemy and all things horrible. Lasorda’s Lair’s readers, what do you think about these new rules being tested out during the Arizona Fall league?