Friday, February 29, 2008

New Rules

They've fiddled with the rule book a bit, but are going to test the new rules in the minors first. Both new rules involve speeding up the game. The first one:
New language inserted into Rule 8.04, which regulates the time that a pitcher has to pitch, has been amended to increase the time within which a pitcher must pitch from 12 to 15 seconds, but the timing will begin when the pitcher receives the ball without regard for whether the batter is ready for the pitch.

If the batter has had a reasonable opportunity to get ready and is not ready, he would be at risk for having the pitcher pitch, or, if the batter is out of the batter's box, for having an automatic strike called, as set forth in Rules 6.02(c) and (d).

I was always under the impression that the timing was always irrespective of whether the batter was ready, and that the pitcher could just pitch unless that batter had called and received time. Guess not. Either way, actually enforcing this rule would make a big difference in the pace of games, which is badly needed in my view. The second rule:

Another rule change will limit the number of visits to the mound by managers, coaches and infielders. Any combination of three or more manager/coach visits to the mound in a game without removing the pitcher will result in the automatic removal of the pitcher from the game on a fourth visit, regardless of whether prior visits were to the same or different pitcher(s). Additionally, no more than one infielder at a time is permitted to visit the mound, including during any visit by a manager or coach.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I've never thought that coach/manager visits were huge contributors to longer games. Well, non-La Russa games anyway. It's probably a good rule, though, because I'd venture a guess that in-game visits from pitching coaches are pretty much pointless and their elimination would go a long way towards making pitchers happier men. Ask yourself: have you ever seen a pitcher look to the dugout and ask for a pitching coach visit? Ever seen a pitcher look particularly pleased when the pitching coach comes out? Me neither.

If they're reduced, pitchers will simply have to figure out how to "bear down," "settle down," and/or "go after this guy" on their own initiative.


Pete Toms said...

Funny, another blogger emailed me some general questions yesterday about baseball, one being what changes should be made to the game. I replied shortening the games, that Alderson had made some progress on this but MLB seemed to have dropped the ball.

A few hours later I saw this story online. I think that to significantly reduce the length of games run scoring has to be reduced. Whether that is via one or a combination of strike zone, mound height, ball deadening...I don't care how, just do it.

Shyster said...

Pete -- I got the same questions from the same blogger (Hi Diesel!) and answered "the enforcement of Rule 8.04" as one of the changes I'd have Selig make. I too didn't see this article until this morning, so my answer may be a bit moot, or at least will be next year.

Jason said...

I'm also giving Diesel answers to the same questions (will make for a nice roundtable, methinks). Aside from enforcing the "pitch clock", I added these two:

 Managers can only use at most 3 pitchers per inning to cease the uses of one pitcher per batter strategy late in games.
 No more pitching 4 balls on an intentional walk. Call the intentional walk and send the runner to first.

Shyster said...

I feel like one of the guys at the lineup in The Usual Suspects. "Who called this roundtable?!"

Since we're all here, we may as well take down New York's Finest Taxi Service . . .

Diesel said...

Who feels like Chinese? If this meeting is going to run long, I've gotta say that I'm starving.

Also, I think the speed-up rules only need to be enforced after the seventh inning stretch. They can take as long as they want before then. Especially during spring training.

Jason said...

What, no Ronan Tynan references to his singing of the very long preamble to "god bless america" before the visiting team takes the field in the 7th?

Anonymous said...


I think it will be a combination of factors that shorten games:

- prohibit batters from stepping out after every pitch
- discontinue automatic granting of TO whenever a batter requests
- prohibit new pitcher per batter in late innings
- shorten the too lengthy commercial breaks between innings

Look at a few innings of games from the 70's. They moved much more quickly in part becuase th etendencies above were not yet developed.