Major League Baseball has deemed that games take too long, and so are implementing new rule changes intended to streamline the pace of play and shorten the breaks present within a game of baseball. New commissioner Rob Manfred has wasted no time in trying to make changes to the game, responding quickly to one of the baseball's most common criticisms: that the games simply take too damn long.
The major rule changes are the addition of a batter's box rule and the use of strict timers for in-game breaks. The batter's box rule will require hitters to keep at least one foot in the batter's box at all times. Additionally, timers will be installed on outfield scoreboards and near home plate that will count down between innings and commercial breaks. Nationally televised games will get two minutes and 45 seconds for commercials, while locally televised games will get two minutes and 25 second breaks. Ideally, play will begin when the timers run out, meaning there should be a lot less standing around waiting and warming up between innings. For all the details, click on the link above to read MLB's detailed press release.
Also announced were a few modifications to the instant replay system. The biggest change is that managers can now issue challenges directly from the dugout without having to come all the way out onto the field. Also, tagging up and issues of whether a runner touched a base will now be reviewable. Finally, managers will retain their challenges after each call successfully overturned - previously, managers only retained their challenges after their first overturned call.
It's important to note that Major League Baseball will enforce these rules with warnings and fines, not with any in-game penalties. In an effort to give players and managers a chance to adjust to these changes, no fines will be issued during spring training or in April of this season.
These rules won't have a major impact on the season, but the changes seem like common sense fixes for the most part. Keeping batters in the box and expediting warm-up times after commercial breaks should slightly shorten game times (which, even for most die-hard baseball fans, have reached a somewhat ridiculous length). Rewarding managers for being right by letting them keep their challenges, as well as giving them the ability to challenge runners tagging up, are both simple and sound changes as well.
What do you think about the new pace of play rules? Has Major League Baseball made a good impact? Do you think they should go farther in their efforts to speed up games? What other changes (if any) do you think they should make to the instant replay system?