MLB Rules Changes for Next Season Include Changes to Intentional Walks and Challenges

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates

For years, baseball critics have discussed the slow pace of play and interminable game length when discussing the biggest issues with the game. It seems like the league is getting serious about addressing them this off-season, as they’ve put a couple big time-saving measures on the books, including the change to intentional walks that doesn’t require four pitches, as well as a 30-second limit on replay challenges.

The rest of the rule changes? Well, they’re a little…drier.  Here’s a rundown of all the rule adjustments for the upcoming 2017 MLB season:

  • The start of a no-pitch intentional walk, allowing the defensive team’s manager to signal a decision to the home plate umpire to intentionally walk the batter.  Following the signal of the manager’s intention, the umpire will immediately award first base to the batter.
  • A 30-second limit for a manager to decide whether to challenge a play and invoke replay review.
  • When a manager has exhausted his challenges for the game, Crew Chiefs may now invoke replay review for non-home run calls beginning in the eighth inning instead of the seventh inning.
  • A conditional two-minute guideline for Replay Officials to render a decision on a replay review, allowing various exceptions.
  • A prohibition on the use of any markers on the field that could create a tangible reference system for fielders.
  • An addition to Rule 5.07 formalizes an umpire interpretation by stipulating that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch.  If there is at least one runner on base, then such an action will be called as a balk under Rule 6.02(a).  If the bases are unoccupied, then it will be considered an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).
  • An amendment to Rule 5.03 requires base coaches to position themselves behind the line of the coach’s box closest to home plate and the front line that runs parallel to the foul line prior to each pitch.  Once a ball is put in play, a base coach is allowed to leave the coach’s box to signal a player so long as the coach does not interfere with play.

We’ll see if this keeps people happy throughout the course of this season, or if the teams and players will roll out more changes next year.

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