ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Atlantic League will enforce new rules, starting on August 1, meant to speed up the pace of baseball games. The article is for Insiders, but thankfully Deadspin jotted down a synopsis of some of the new rules, so head over there to check them out.
The one change that particularly intrigued me is the “automatic” intentional walk. Rather than throwing four balls out of the strike zone, the batter will simply be awarded first base. That change would remove the chance of moments such as this…
…but they happen so infrequently that the quickened pace is worth it.
Could those changes be applied to Major League Baseball? Possibly. However, it seems that two of the bigger culprits responsible for the slower pace of gameplay in the majors are commercial breaks and frequent pitching changes. The former won’t be changed because losing out on free money is never fun. As for the latter, limiting pitching changes would remove some of the strategy that makes baseball so interesting, but it might help keep more people interested as the game reaches the later stages. Call it “The Tony La Russa rule”.