Saturday, February 21, 2015

MLB introduces new pace of play rules and replay modifications

Major league baseball announced some new pace of play changes to take place starting this season and also replay modifications.  The changes will be mostly about in between innings and batters not being allowed to step out unless they have one of several excuses that are allowed.  MLB will be implementing clocks above the stadiums to count down in between innings and they want everyone to be ready to go once the game comes back from commercial break. 

The batter needs to keep one foot in the box at all times unless he has one of a few allowed excuses.  The umpires need to enforce these rules and it will also be done by  a warning and fine system.  Immediately following the third out of each half inning a clock will count down from 2:25 for locally televised games and 2:45 from nationally televised games.  A MLB representative attending each game will operate the timers from the ballpark and will track the following:

40 seconds-PA announces batter and begins to play the walk up music

30 seconds-Pitcher throws his final warm up pitch

25 seconds-Batters walk up music ends

20 seconds-5 seconds-Batter enters the batter box

20 seconds to 0 seconds-pitcher begins motion to deliver pitch

Pitchers will be permitted to throw as many warm up pitches as they wish prior to the point when 30 seconds remain.  Pitchers however will be deemed to have forfeited any of their traditional eight warm up pitches that they are unable to complete prior to the 30 second deadline.  Exceptions to these rules will be made in a variety of circumstances including if the pitcher or catcher ended the prior half inning at bat or on base. 

Batters will be encouraged to get into the batter's box with 20 seconds remaining on the timer.  This is the same time that the broadcasters return from commercial.  The pitcher is expected to begin his motion to deliver the pitch as soon as the batter gets into the batter's box. and becomes alert to the pitcher.  Batters who do not enter the box prior to five seconds remaining on the timer and pitchers who do not begin the motion to deliver the pitch prior to zero seconds remaining on the timer will be deemed to have violated the break timing rules. 

Discipline will result for flagrant violators but no fines will be issued in Spring Training or April of 2015.  Donations will be made to the Major League Baseball Players Trust charitable foundation based on the level of adherence to the new rules. 

Instant replay changes: Managers may now invoke instant replay from the dugout and will no longer be required to approach the calling umpire to challenge a call.  Managers may hold play from the top step of the dugout by signaling to players and the home plate umpire that he is considering a challenge.  A decision can be communicated verbally or with a hand signal.  To challenge an inning ending call, managers will be required to leave the dugout immediately in order to hold the defensive team on the field. 

Whether a runner left the base early or properly touched a base on a tag up play will be reviewable. 

A manager will retain his challenge after every call that is overturned.  Last year, a manager retained his challenge only after the first overturned call. 

A manager must use a challenge in order to review whether a play at home plate included a violation of the rule governing home plate collisions.  However, in the event that a manager is out of challenges after the start of the seventh inning, the Crew Chief may still choose to review whether there was a violation of the rule. 

During postseason games, regular season tiebreaker games and the All-Star game, managers will now have two challenges per game. 

Instant replay will not be utilized during 2015 Spring Training, but it will be in place for exhibition games at Major League ballparks prior to the start of the 2015 regular season. 

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