Professional baseball could see some major rule changes coming to the game in the upcoming seasons. The sport has had the least number of major rule changes of any professional sport in American history.
Baseball is declining in popularity among sports fans, and this is in large part to the slow nature of the game. The game is regularly slowed by discussions on the mound, extended periods of time between pitches, and batters leaving the batter’s box after every pitch.
To combat these problems, the MLB has a pace-of-game committee that has proposed possible rule changes to speed up the game and retain the attention of viewers.
This committee has proposed a trial run of the new rules in the Arizona Fall League, which runs from Oct. 7 to Nov. 15.
These rules are heavily centered around the pitcher and focus on preventing them from prolonging the game.
The rules that are being tested are requiring the pitcher to pitch the ball within 20 seconds of receiving it. Pitchers no longer need to throw four balls for an intentional-walk; instead of throwing, they will just signal to the umpire they want to walk the batter. Pitchers will have a shorter amount of time to warmup after entering the game, limiting their time to two and a half minutes. Catchers and managers will be limited to three visits to the mound during the game, with the exception of pitching changes.
The batter is also restricted under the rule changes, with the new restriction that requires them to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box at all times, excluding foul balls or wild pitches. The final rule seeks to reduce the time passed between innings. The pitcher and batter will have one minute and 45 seconds to be in position to play. If the batter is not ready, the umpire can call a strike, and if the pitcher is not ready, the umpire can call a ball.
These new rule changes can possibly be implemented in to regular season play in the MLB, as long as they are successful in the trial run.