By Garrett Pelto
According to Kyle Glaser of Baseball America, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) announced pace-of-play rule changes for all teams below Major League Baseabll (MLB) in the upcoming 2018 season. The major change will occur during extra innings (a game tied after nine innings), when a player for the hitting team will be placed on second base to start the inning.
The base runner will be the previous batter to the leadoff hitter starting the extra inning. Matt Kelly of MLB.com stated that teams can substitute a pinch runner, but the player removed cannot reenter.
In addition to this peculiar rule change, Kelly also lists the new amount of mound visits allowed per game per level:
- Six mound visits per game for Triple-A teams
- Eight mound visits per game for Double-A teams
- Ten mound visits per game for Class A Advanced teams
- No mound visit restrictions for Class A Short Season and Rookie-level teams
But the tweaking of rules doesn’t stop there. MiLB is implementing a 15-second pitch clock and 20-second pitch clock when a runner reaches base. While pitch clocks have been around for the past few years, they are shaving off seconds to make the game faster.
Why should you care?
None of this is happening to the MLB. Yet. In fact, the MLB commissioner decided against a pitch clock and between-batter timer between innings for 2018.
But this means they are using these MiLB changes as an experimental ground for the MLB. And baseball purists should be worried.
Baseball have been messed with and altered to compete with the excitement of the NFL and NBA for years. From instant replay reviews to ever-changing Home Run Derby rules, the MLB is trying really hard to change baseball into an exciting game that it isn’t to most viewers.
Unless you have played baseball, and stood in the outfield waiting endlessly for a ball to be hit your way, you probably don’t have much patience for watching the game. And I don’t blame you. It can still be hard for someone like me who has played and watched many games of baseball in my few 21 years.
But there is only so much tweaking you can do to a sport before it becomes something else.
Football has seen a lot of rule changes because of serious issues like concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). These changes have legitimate reasons to be in effect because they deal with player safety, and yet these rules are still changing football dramatically from when Hall of Famers like “Mean” Joe Greene and Lawrence Taylor played.
If the MLB puts this base runner rule into effect in 2019, the game of baseball will look different than it ever has just like football. It may increase the speed of the game by allowing runs to be scored quicker in extra innings, but it will make it harder on pitchers during crucial moments.
If baseball wanted more runs scored, then they shouldn’t care about HGH and juiced baseballs.
The truth is that we won’t know how these rules will actually alter the game until after the season. If they are crap rules, then the players and coaches will most likely complain. But regardless of how they feel, don’t expect this to be the last change to baseball anytime soon (sorry, purists).