Baseball is a gentleman’s game meant to be played at a leisurely pace with mo limits or restrictions on the length of play. But with the increasingly shortened attention spans, Major League Baseball has been searching for ways to shorten the time it takes to play the game.
To that end, MLB has instituted a new set of rules for the 2018 season.
This season MLB has decided not to implement a pitch clock – pitchers have a specific amount of time in which to throw a pitch – but has put a limit on the number of times a coach can make a visit to the pitcher’s mound.
Each team will be permitted to make only six visits to the pit her’s mound during a regular nine inning game. In the case of extra innings, each team will receive one extra visit per inning.
While visits for injury or potential injury, an offensive player substitution, or the cleaning off of cleats in inclement weather will be exempt; the rule applies for any visit to the mound including coaches and fellow players. Players communicating via shouting or signals from their field position will also be exempt from the mound rule.
If a team has used up all of their mound visits, a catcher may ask the umpire for permission to visit the pitcher if he believes there is a mix up in signals.
Always a bone of contention among teams is the stealing of signs. MLB is installing new dugout phones that connect to the video review rooms. These will be monitored to help eliminate players from stealing signs.
The rule indicating the time limit between innings has been tweaked this year. While the time itself has not been changed – 2:05 for local broadcasts,2:25 for national broadcasts, and 2:55 for post season play – the timing of events within that time have changed. A pitcher must begin his final warmup pitch before the countdown reaches 20 seconds at which time the batter’s name will be announced. The pitcher must then begin his wind up once the countdown clock reaches five seconds.
The new timing does not ensure that a pitcher will receive his traditional eight pitch warmup; however, a pitcher may throw more than eight as long as he can do so within the time limit allowed. The inning clock will begin as soon as the last out is made. If the pitcher was involved in the play or on deck the clock begins as soon as the pitcher reaches the dugout. In case of a play review, the clock begins as soon as the umpire makes the call.
The inning clock will also apply to pitching changes and begins the moment the relief pitcher crosses the warning track.
While MLB has not announced specific penalties, the have promised that persistent violators of the new rules will face increasing levels of discipline.