Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
Entertaiment | By Mabel Barber

MiLB alters pace-of-play rules with big changes to extra innings

MiLB alters pace-of-play rules with big changes to extra innings

Minor League Baseball will implement a series of rule changes created to reduce the length of games for the 2018 season, the organization announced Wednesday. In Single-A visits to the pitcher's mound by coaches and other players will be limited to ten per game; at the Double-A and Triple-A levels there are even fewer mound visits and a 15-second pitch timer will be employed.

The goal is to reduce the number of pitchers used in extra innings, as well address some of the issues that crop up as a result of an extra innings games, like the shortage of players in the games that follow, position players forced to pitch, and the shuffling of pitchers within the organization due to pitching shortages caused by extra innings games.

The changes that will take effect in Minor League Baseball include all extra-inning games beginning with a base runner on second. The clock will restart after any events - pick-off play, "time" awarded by the umpire, etc. - that allows the batter to leave the box. It's supposed to the player who batted previous to the leadoff batter of the inning (or a substitute for that player).

The Class A Florida State League experimented with a 15-second pitch clock in all situations the past two years, and its average time for a nine-inning game dropped from 2:41 in 2015 to 2:35 the following season before rising to 2:38 last year. If he doesn't do it, the batter is awarded a ball.

Pitchers at the Double-A and Triple-A levels will have 15 seconds to begin his wind-up once everyone is set.

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We could one day Major League Baseball add similar rules.

An additional visit will be added for each extra inning. The players' union agreed not to challenge MLB's decision to institute the rule.

Another initiative to speed the game comes with changes to the pitch clock rules. Also, an extra visit will be allowed for each extra inning. Heck, teams routinely have eight-man bullpens now. All of which is to say that this is much ado about nothing. Testing out rule changes in the Minors first will give you info about whether or not the rule changes actually shorten gametime and whether or not it drastically affects the concept of the sport.

Most baseball fans on Twitter called "foul" on the rule changes. Do I like it? Nah, not really, mostly because it nearly ensures that the first action in extra innings will be a sacrifice bunt to get that runner to third, often followed by an intentional walk to set up a double play, and bunts and intentional walks are dumb and unexciting most of the time. And heck, maybe we'll get some fun out of it.

These changes should mostly be seen as Rob Manfred making it so that it can not be said he's doing nothing about a problem he's made a far bigger deal about than most people have.

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