MLB rule changes for 2017 are coming. Yes, Major League Baseball is changing some rules for the upcoming 2017 season, with the reason for doing so is mainly to cut down on the length of time that it takes to complete the average game.
According to a CBS Sports report, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA announced the new rule changes on Thursday afternoon, and while most of the changes seem to makes sense because they revolve around instant replay, a few will have old-school MLB fans shaking their heads a bit.
The first change that will be the most notable to baseball fans who have been watching for decades or longer is the new intentional walk rule.
When a team wanted to walk a batter intentionally, the catcher would inform the umpire that they were intentionally walking the current hitter, and the pitcher threw four straight pitches out of the strike zone. That is how the rule has been since 1870.
Well that is about to change.
This season the defensive team’s manager can signal to the home plate umpire to intentionally walk the current batter, thus letting the hitter take first without the pitcher throwing a single pitch. That may sound like a great change, especially in terms of speeding up the game a bit, but actually it many ways it may not be.
Many crazy situations can, and have, happened while intentional walks were occurring.
A stolen base, a wild pitch or even a batter taking a swing at the lobbed in pitch and hitting it while the defense is on its heels all could occur during the intentional walk. Games have even been decided on intentional walks. A possible wild pitch with a runner on third base could end the game. There really is more to the intentional walk than meets the eye, but now the possible drama that could result during the intentional walk will no longer be there.
Of all the rule changes the MLB made for the upcoming season, this is arguably one they should not have.
A few other changes that should help speed up the game have to do with video replay.
Starting in 2017, a 30-second limit will be put in place for a manager to decide whether to challenge a play and invoke replay review. It will be interesting to see how strict the umpires will be on this rule, since it seems whenever a close play occurs everyone, including the manager, is waiting for a replay on the scoreboard. The score keeper had better be on his toes this season!
Another change that will be beneficial for both teams will be the possibility of a replay late in the game for a team even if the manager has used all of his changes for the game. Now, when a manager has exhausted his challenges for the game, the Crew Chiefs may now invoke replay review for non-home run calls beginning in the eighth inning instead of the seventh inning.
This is a great change because what really is the point of instant replay if it isn’t available for the entire game?
MLB may have adopted the idea of this rule change from the NFL. In football, in the final two minutes of the game the referees can go to replay of a possible fumble, touchdown, in or out of bounds possible catch or other reasons to make sure they get the call correct. Now baseball will have that ability to a degree also.
You can check out the entire list of all of the MLB rule changes for the up coming 2017 season by clicking here.
[Featured Image by Jeffrey Phelps/Getty Images]