Baseball owners last week approved a trio of rule changes, says Jayson Stark, all of which will be noticeable next year as you watch the Cubs, assuming they are approved by the Players Association. The three changes:
- The first, and undoubtedly most popular, rule change is the death of the dreaded fake-to-third-throw-to-first pitching move, which never works, and always annoys. That move would now be considered a balk. It makes me wonder what the consequences of the change will be – more throws to third? More guys taking off from first on the first move toward third, because now there can’t be a fake? Could make for a little more excitement on the base paths. (This rule change can actually be implemented unilaterally by the owners if the players say no, so expect this one to happen. The others aren’t expected to be opposed by the players.)
- The second change would allow coaches and managers to bring interpreters to the mound when they come out to speak to foreign-born pitchers who don’t speak fluent English. This would presumably impact new reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, who comes over from Japan. He’s said he can communicate well enough with coaches and his catcher, but I’m not sure if he’s considered fluent. And if the Cubs can bring out an interpreter to help, why wouldn’t they? The rule change could also impact any other pitchers – Spanish-speaking, for example – who require an interpreter.
- Teams are now permitted to have seven coaches in uniform on the bench for games, an increase from six. This rule change probably explains why there has been a touch of confusion about whether new assistant hitting coach Rob Deer would be able to be a uniformed coach on the bench during games. Previously, only six coaches were permitted to be in uniform on the bench, which would have included manager Dale Sveum, bench coach Jamie Quirk, pitching coach Chris Bosio, first base coach Dave McKay, third base coach David Bell, and hitting coach James Rowson. Teams pushed for the addition of a seventh permitted coach, primarily because of the proliferation of assistant hitting coaches.