MLB Announces Official Rule Changes For 2017 Season: No-Pitch Intentional Walks, Replay Review Time
Major League Baseball officially unveiled a series of rule changes on Thursday that were agreed to by the MLB Players’ Association and that will take effect at the beginning of the 2017 season.
MLB Announces Official Rule Changes for 2017
MLB Communications tweeted the full list, which is highlighted by no-pitch intentional walks and a time limit for replay reviews:
MLB & the MLBPA today jointly announced a series of modifications that have been approved and will be in place in the 2017 regular season: pic.twitter.com/IjVboUSCGd
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) March 2, 2017
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Most of the changes are aimed at helping to improve the game’s speed/pace.
Under the new rules, managers now get just 30 seconds after the play to call for a replay from the dugout, thus forcing them to make quicker decisions on whether or not they agree with the umpire’s call.
The second rule-change regarding replays will allow managers to make challenges up through the seventh inning, one inning longer than previously allowed.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported comments made by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred about the goal of shortening games.
“I will say that pace of play is an issue that we need to be focused on,” he said. “And the ‘we’ there is players, owners, umpires … everyone who is invested in this game.”
Manfred added: “I don’t think there’s a magic bullet that is going to come one year and that’s going to be the solution to pace of play. It’s going to be an ongoing effort to make sure our game moves along in the way in the way that is most attractive to our fans.”
Several players around the league have expressed confusion or openly criticized the rule changes.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman’s comments on the changes, some of which— like the new no-pitch intentional walks rule— were first proposed a few weeks ago.
“My thoughts are, I’m a young guy, but I like old-school baseball,” he said. “I don’t think we should have instant replay. I don’t think we should be changing the game at all. It’s a beautiful game the way it is. They’re always talking about pace of play, but I think instant replay made the game longer.”
Freeman also doesn’t believe changing intentional walks will shorten the duration of games: “Taking away 10 seconds [for each pitch in an intentional walk]—they’re still going to have instant replay take five minutes when we’re just standing around. It [intentional walk] is part of the game. I’ve seen a lot of people score on wild pitches on intentional walks.”
An “angered and frustrated” Manfred told reporters, including Nightengale, that he can ultimately make changes and other similar decisions without approval from the MLBPA, a union.
ESPN Stats & Information reported last July that the average MLB game lasted three hours and four minutes. It was a four-minute increase from 2015, when the league was more forceful in keeping players in the batter’s box between pitches, and a 15-minute increase from 2005.
MLB also addressed the controversy that arose after the Mets accused the Dodgers of using lasers to mark the field for defensive positioning last season. All marking used for defensive positioning are now banned, including paint or lasers.
Finally, third-base coaches will be required to stay in their own box before every pitch, refining a rule that was already technically in place, though rarely enforced. Coaches can still run down the line to shout at their runners during plays, but are still prohibited from interfering with on-field action.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JUNE 07: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins steals second base against Eduardo Nunez #9 of the Minnesota Twins as umpire Scott Barry #87 looks on during the tenth inning of the game on June 7, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Marlins 6-4 in eleven innings. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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