Major League Baseball and second-year commissioner Rob Manfred have been playing around with new pace-of-play rules, and they, along with the MLB Players Association, have added to that list with a few more mandates being released Thursday.
Last season, MLB introduced commercial break clocks to speed up in between inning times, and now in 2016, those times will be reduced. From the MLB press release:
Break timers will now mirror the time allotted to broadcasters between innings: 2:05 for locally televised games and 2:25 for nationally televised games, a reduction of 20 seconds each from the 2015 season, when the timers counted down from 2:25 for local games and from 2:45 for national games. The change aims to allow players to more closely match the resumption of play with the return of broadcasters from commercial breaks.
According to the press release, game times were reduced by just over six minutes (6:07) per nine inning game, and reduced the average game time to 2:56:14, down from over three hours the season before.
There is also a new rule regarding visits to the mound:
The pace of game program will expand this season to include timed 30-second visits to the pitcher’s mound by managers and pitching coaches.
These rules will hopefully reduce the time of games even more, but another on-field change that will be implemented has to do with takeout slides. This became a priority last season after some big-time injuries, and those issues are now being addressed.
On potential double plays, runners can still make contact with the fielder, but only within certain parameters.
If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference under Rule 6.01. A “bona fide slide” for purposes of Rule 6.01 occurs when the runner:
- begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base;
- is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot;
- is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after completion of the slide; and
- slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.
Violation of this rule, along with “neighborhood play” calls, will now be eligible for review, which was not the case in the past.
These new rules will continue to enhance the game of baseball both on the field and for the fans’ viewing pleasure. Both the MLB and the MLBPA came together on this and hashed out an agreement, which was a necessary change after last season’s implementation.