The game of baseball has long been a stapled item in the history of America and has stayed relatively the same for years. As times are changing outside of the sport and are having direct influences on the game, Major League Baseball has decided it is time baseball sees changes to integrate the game into modern ideals.
The Competition Committee and the Playing Rules Committee of the MLB have both agreed to several changes and additions to rules that will be implemented in all levels of the minor league organizations of the MLB. These rule changes are efforts to try and keep up with consumer demands and trends in sports viewership. As many people are beginning to have less desire to stay seated watching a baseball game for 3 hours, Major League Baseball is looking to experiment with rules that they believe will add excitement and create a faster pace of play. Here are some of the rules that are turning people’s heads.
This rule change is being seen implemented in the Triple-A division of minor leagues. Although this new rule may seem minimal and something that doesn’t need to see a change, there is potential for this rule to have huge implications in the biggest situations. The distance from bag to bag on a baseball field is 90 feet. Umpires are constantly forced to judge a matter of milliseconds when a runner tries to beat out a throw to first. The plan is for three inches to be added to the bases, and baseball could become the next “game of inches.”
Defensive Positioning Limits
This is a rule change that has been in the talks of the committees for a while now, but they will finally see an experimental stage in the Double-A level. There has been a rising use of defensive shifts for specific players or circumstances in ballgames. The shifts have proved to get more outs and limit hits from players that consistently hit it to one part of the field. As of now, the rule is just that 4 players must be on the dirt of the infield, but this could be changed to requiring two players on each side of the second base at all times.
Pick Off/ Step Off Limitations
This rule that is being implemented into the Low-A league of MLB’s minor league system will look to limit how many times a pitcher can try to pick off runners on base. MLB’s committee has come to believe the game has turned stagnant, losing the entertainment factor. To get this back, this rule will encourage more base-stealing and action on the base path.
All of these rules, along with others, are a big step to trying to renovate the game in new ways that will appeal to fans. Baseball has needed an injection of life into the game fro some time, although the correct way to do that will never be clear. Raul Ibanez, the vice president of on-field operations for the MLB, said, “These experimental rules are designed to put more balls in play, create more excitement on the base paths, and increase the impact of speed and athleticism on the field.”
Caleb Selk, assistant coach here at Greenville, believes these new rules “… are going to either make or break the game.” As a baseball fan, he has always enjoyed the game for how it is, but he also understands the entertainment aspect. “[That] part of the game is what gets some fans in the stands and people watching at home.”
These new changes the game of baseball will see this coming year are all part of experiments to see if these rules can one day be implemented into the main stage of the sport. The hope is to see some changes begin to be made as soon as the 2022 season.
Media by Parker Lutz.