MLB adopts the “Maddon Rule” to combat relief pitcher shenanigans

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Remember last June when Joe Maddon had Sam Fuld warm up as a relief pitcher for the sole purpose of giving his real reliever, Cesar Ramos, more time to get loose?  And how he admitted that he lied to the umps about Fuld having an injury so as not to run afoul of the rules which require relief pitchers to face a batter before being pulled?  Yeah, MLB has changed the rules to combat that kind of nonsense:

A season after the Tampa Bay manager put outfielder Sam Fuld to the mound to warm up for the sole purpose of giving a reliever extra time in the bullpen, Major League Baseball closed the loophole.

MLB has amended Official Baseball Rule 3.05 regarding such shenanigans. The change will “prohibit a manager from sending his current pitcher out to warm up with no intention of having him pitch because a relief pitcher is not ready to enter the game.”

It’s more of a refinement than an actual rule change, I suppose. Going more specifically at the intent than the previous version of the rule which dealt simply with whether a reliever had faced anyone.  Which is a good thing, because even if what Maddon did wasn’t a capital crime, that kind of gamesmanship is just kinda lame.

Other rule changes: hitters can now use bats with scoops on the end of them as deep as 1 1/4 inches, up from 1 inch. I’d be curious to know what inspired that. Probably intense lobbying from the woodworking industry. Also: the word “baseline” has been replaced with the word “base path” in several places. That was probably the result of intense lobbying from the paper industry. That extra space will amount to more paper usage over time, you know, and that means money to Big Paper.

Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park in 2018

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The Red Sox are the latest team to extend the protective netting at their ballpark this winter. According to a statement by club president Sam Kennedy, the exact dimensions of the netting have yet to be determined, but it will likely stretch “all the way to Field Box 79, down the left field line and then all the way down to almost Canvas Alley in the Field Box 9 area.”

Fenway Park received additional protective netting prior to the 2016 season, when the netting behind home plate was lengthened to the home and visitor dugouts. Per Kennedy’s statement, the current expansion should cover everything but the outfield corners, making it nearly impossible for a line drive foul to reach fans in the lower boxes.

After a toddler sustained serious injuries from a 105-MPH foul ball to the face at Yankee Stadium last September, over half of all MLB teams decided to take more extreme preventative measures in advance of the 2018 season. The Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Twins and Indians are among the organizations to address the issue over the last several years, while others have yet to take significant action.