There’s not really another way to couch this one. Having covered pace-of-play discussions closely now for a few years, I have a pretty good sense of what people like and what they don’t, and the changes Minor League Baseball just announced are going to piss people off.
Minor League Baseball announces pace-of-play rules for 2018, including starting with a runner on second in extra innings, limited mound visits, pitch clocks: https://t.co/v1qRZGB12n pic.twitter.com/BigyKMpoW0
— MiLB.com (@MiLB) March 14, 2018
MLB participated in the creation of these rules, and such rules have often been laid out in the minor leagues as a proving ground for future adoption in the big leagues. So when sweeping changes like this are made, you should pay attention. And, in some cases, cringe.
Among the changes:
- Mounds visits will be limited – similar to how MLB is doing it – depending on level. The lower levels get more mound visits.
- The minor league pitch clock, which was already in place, is being sped up to just 15 seconds with no runners on base. With runners on base, it will be 20 seconds. And if you fail to start delivering your pitch in that time, it’s a ball.
- ALL extra innings in ALL games will begin with a runner on second base – AKA, the worst rule suggestion ever. I’ll grant some grace here and say that MLB reportedly wants to institute this rule in exhibition games only, so doing it in the minor leagues *COULD* make some sense for the same reasons (no need for marathon games, wrap things up more quickly, protect players). But this makes me deeply, deeply nervous that MLB will be considering some kind of bogus artificial limit on the endings of games. Who wants to see more sac bunts and sac flies winning the game in the 10th inning?!?!? HOORAY! NOT!!! *FART NOISE*
In the announcement of the rule changes, here’s how the extra-innings rule is justified:
“We believe these changes to extra innings will enhance the fans’ enjoyment of the game and will become something that the fans will look forward to on nights where the game is tied late in the contest,” said Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner. “Player safety has been an area of growing concern for our partners at the Major League Baseball level, and the impact that lengthy extra innings games has on pitchers, position players and an entire organization was something that needed to be addressed.”
Hopefully, then, this will be a rule that stays – if it stays at all – forever only in the minor leagues.
As for the pitch clock, I know that it riles people up. I don’t mind it, because the minor leagues already have it, and it hasn’t been an issue for players to adjust. When the pitch clock comes to MLB – and it’s almost certainly coming eventually – it’s better than at least a large chunk of the league has had some experience with it in the minors.
Oh also, I was just reminded of this tweet:
Gonna start the XBL (X Baseball League). Rules:
– 1-second pitch clock
– All bats require barbed wire, can be used in the field
– 23% of baseballs are explosive
– Tighter pants
– Bunt = ejection
– Bases are made of trampolines
– Mandatory steroids
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 25, 2018