The Atlantic League is engaging in an interesting experiment to pick up the pace of games

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Joe Delessio of Sports on Earth has a neat article up. It’s about how the independent Atlantic League has, since the first of August, tweaked some rules in an effort to pick up the pace of games. They’ve done so in an effort to study it, really, not just as a gimmick. Among the tweaks: enforcing the rules about batters stepping out of the box and pitchers throwing the ball in a timely manner; just “calling” an intentional walk instead of throwing four pitches, limiting mound visits (and the time of said visits) and reducing pitchers’ warmup pitches.

None of these are radical changes — there’s no big pitch clock on the wall and no rules fundamental to how the game is played have been changed — but the results are, so far anyway, promising. About nine minutes have been shaved off the average game and far fewer games have exceeded three hours than typically did before the tweaks. But more than game length, they’ve picked up game pace. There’s just more action over less time.

An interesting component to this: Tal Smith, the longtime Astros executive who now works with the Sugar Land Skeeters, helped move this along. Tal, no doubt, still has the ear of many people around Major League Baseball. If these modest things are proven to work and are proven not to disrupt the game too much, they could gain purchase in Major League Baseball.

Donaldson ejected for kicking dirt on plate after home run

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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Minnesota’s Josh Donaldson managed to get ejected while hitting a home run.

Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

With the score 2-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 AL MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.

Manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.

Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.

Donaldson also had argued with Bellino on a 1-1 breaking ball in the first inning that appeared to be high but was called a strike, leading to a strikeout.

“We need Josh on the field, out there playing, and at third base,” Baldelli said. “That’s when we’re at our best. And so that’s really the end of it. I think we can move past it at his point, and go from here.”

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