Apparently, MLB has some new rules for this season:

Time between pitches: The allotment for delivering the ball with no one on base has been reduced, from 20 seconds to 12. The price for each violation is a ball.

Batter’s box presence: Conversely, an automatic strike will be assessed each time a batter violates the rule requiring they keep one foot in the batter’s box throughout his at-bat, except for certain game-play conditions — during which he is still not allowed to leave the dirt area surrounding the plate.

While I don’t like, in theory, the idea of a clock running in baseball, I have to say I think these changes make sense. 12 seconds is a pretty long time for a pitcher to hold the ball while no one’s on base, but I think the second rule change is the more important. Batters stepping out after each pitch is really irritating, and maybe this will cut down on that. (If this means what it seems to mean, how will, say, Nomar Garciaparra possibly cope?)

I don’t think that games are too long, necessarily, and I tend to leap to the defense of the game when someone calls it boring, but I’m all for keeping momentum moving during a game. This seems like it ought to help. I still like Bill James’s suggestion (for which I can’t find the reference) that rather than changing rules, if umpires just refused to grant time to hitters, the whole pace of the game would change for the better.

So, when does real baseball start? I need to get into a fantasy league for this year.


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