How To Make Baseball Less Boring: Adopt Atlantic League Rules
I’ve been to a countless number of St. Louis Cardinals games and have been running a fantasy baseball league for so long my friends think I invented the hobby. It’s safe to say that I am a huge baseball fan; even I must admit the games are too long, and unless it’s playoff time, are incredibly boring to watch on television. One independent minor league is hoping to buck the trend with a set of new rules.
The Atlantic League is adopting new rules starting August 1 that will attempt to speed up the game. And I love them.
• The defensive team will be limited to three “timeouts” per game, in which mound visits or on-field conferences take place with the current pitcher. Pitching changes will not be counted as timeouts, and in the case of extra innings, one additional timeout will be permitted at the start of the 10th inning and every three innings thereafter. Umpires will enforce a strict 45-second time limit on said timeouts. If the umpire’s warning is disregarded by the defensive team and play continues to be delayed, the umpire shall declare a “ball” for the batter at the plate. This will limit the number of times play is interrupted by on-field conferences.
• Pinch runners will be used for catchers as soon as the catchers reach base. This ensures that catchers are suited up quickly to start the next half-inning.
• The number of warm-up pitches for each pitcher will be reduced from eight to six.
• When a manager or catcher on the defensive team indicates to the home plate umpire they wish to issue an intentional base on balls, the batter is to be automatically awarded first base without the need for the pitcher to deliver four balls.
• Umpires will be directed to enforce Rule 6.02 and Rule 8.04, related to hitters stepping out of the box and pitchers delivering the ball within 12 seconds when the bases are unoccupied.
• Umpires will be directed to control the pace of play. The umpires shall adhere to the entire strike zone as defined in Rule 2.00 and observe that definition when calling pitches balls or strikes.
The only rule I question is the pinch-runner for the catcher situation. Part of the big thrill of baseball is being able to run the bases and give it your all to cross home plate. The catchers will miss out on that opportunity. Teams will also have to strategize a possible ‘pinch-runner’ only position.
This is a good petri dish for baseball though. If all these rules work well in the minors, it wouldn’t shock me to see some of these changes in Major League Baseball within the next few years, especially with a new commissioner on the way.
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