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Brace Yourselves: MLB Rule Changes Are Coming

MLB continues to change the rules to speed up pace of play.

I remember when MLB added wild card teams for the first time after the 1993 season. The following season, two expansion teams were added to MLB. There are baseball fans (purists they call themselves, I call them boomers and dinosaurs) who never watched Major League Baseball again. They have sure missed a good time. Anyway. The game changes but it also stays the same. Anyone reading this who might be worried should not worry. The game changes while remaining the same terrific game it has been for almost 146 years. Let's see the new rules.

Pitch Clock

"The catcher must be in position when the timer hits 10 seconds, the hitter must have both feet in the batter's box and be "alert" at the 8-second mark and the pitcher must start his "motion to pitch" by the expiration of the clock. A violation by the pitcher is an automatic ball. One by the hitter constitutes an automatic strike."

That is a strict rule. Pedro Baez must have been shaking when he read these rules. Just kidding, Baez saw these rules in the minor leagues. I think the pitch clock rule is good. The games are trending long most of the time, this rule should help. It will be an adjustment for players and fans, but Jeff Passan says we will all like it and Passan is the man to trust.

Banning of Defensive Shifts

"Shifting an infielder to play short right field, or simply over-shifting three infielders to the right side of the second-base bag is no longer legal. All four infielders will need to be on the dirt. The position of defensive players can be reviewed and if a defense is deemed illegal, the batting team can choose to accept the outcome of the play or take an automatic ball instead."

The banning of the shift is stupid. New rules are meant to fix problems. The elongation of games due to pitching changes, pitchers taking longer, sign-stealing—all those are problems that needed solving. The shift was not a problem that needed solving. If you disagree with that, I think the problem was not the shifts but the answer. Teaching players to hit the ball the other way or to hit the ball so hard that the shift doesn't work is the answer. The banning of the shift is taking the evolution of the game and making it go backward. You cannot see the evolution of man and then make a law saying it's illegal to walk on all fours. My analogy may leave a bit to be desired, but banning the shift is just ugly.

Bigger Bases

"The bases will increase from 15 to 18 square inches, with expectations that the larger size allows fewer collisions around the bag as well as slightly shortens the distance between bases."

It is worth mentioning that this rule change was the only change unanimously agreed to. It's a great change that will cut down on player injuries. That alone is reason enough to go along with it. Stolen bases may go up a tad, but a few inches of a larger base will not bring back the days of Rickey Henderson, so this is not a change that will do a forced change to the game.

Last Thoughts

Baseball has changed a lot in a few short seasons. I grant that. Baseball has also seen monumental changes in the past century. I don't necessarily like all the rule changes, but the game will adjust and so will we, the fans. If time has taught us anything about baseball, it is that it survives every ebb and flow that society or its own rules have cast upon it.