When the new pace-of-play rules were announced yesterday by MLB, the headline move was not including the much-discussed pitch clock. A limitation on mound visits, however, has long been a slightly more popular change, and it was included without dispute.
That said, there’s always a difference between agreeing on the rough contours of a rule, and then actually implementing the specifics. Whatever the specifics are for this new rule, Joe Maddon says the Cubs will deal with it. I’m sure they will.
At first blanch, though, Willson Contreras isn’t quite as ready to accept the limitation on mound visits:
Willson Contreras isn't deterred by new mound visit rule: "What about if you have a tight game & you have to go out there? They can't say anything about that, that's my team & we just care about wins. If they're gonna fine me about number 7 mound visit, I'll pay the price." #Cubs
— Josh Frydman (@Josh_Frydman) February 20, 2018
Willson Contreras on new mound visit rules: I've been reading a lot about this ruling. I don't even care what they have. If I have to go again and pay the price for my team, I will… If they're going to fine me for the no. 7 mound visit, I'll pay the price.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) February 20, 2018
Setting the defiant point aside, Contreras actually underscores here a significant and obvious problem with the mound visit rule as announced yesterday: how exactly does MLB plan to stop a 7th mound visit? Fines, as Contreras points out, aren’t going to do the trick. An umpire saying, “Hey, you there! Stop that walking! I see you! I know you can hear me! OK, well keep it short! Yes, that’s right, wrap it up! This doesn’t count as a visit because I say it doesn’t count! Please come back here quickly!”, isn’t gonna do squat in the heat of the moment.
MLB is going to need to clearly elucidate for catchers, pitchers, and other position players – their “visits” count now, too – exactly what the price is going to be if they make that illegal 7th visit.
Ejections will probably be threatened, but if it’s up to me, and if MLB really wants to make players respect this rule? It’s pretty simple: upon that 7th visit – just like a second manager visit in an inning – the pitcher has to come out. No chance a catcher is risking getting his pitcher pulled early in that situation. That way, the ump actually has some teeth when he says, “Don’t do it, buddy!” as the catcher starts to stroll to the mound.
UPDATE: Hey, MLB just out there
stealing my ideas taking my suggestions:
Commissioner Rob Manfred just said that if a catcher or coach makes a 7th visit, there would have to be a pitching change.
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) February 20, 2018
UPDATE 2: I’ll go with the Commissioner, but it would be nice if MLB’s officials were on the same page:
Joe Torre says the umpire will tell a catcher to get back behind the plate if he attempts to violate the 6 mound visit rule…if he keeps going it could lead to an ejection, etc. MLB hoping doesn't get to that
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) February 20, 2018
Resuming original post.
That said … I still wouldn’t want to be the guy trying to stop Willson Contreras from doing something he’s set his mind on doing. If he’s gonna go see his pitcher, he’s probably gonna go see his pitcher.