MLB and MLBPA announce modifications of some rules for 2017 season

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Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association jointly announced modifications of some rules effective for the 2017 regular season.

  • As was announced last month, managers will signal to the home plate umpire that he wants to intentionally walk the current batter.
  • Managers now have 30 seconds to decide to challenge an umpire’s ruling and invoke replay review
  • When a manager has used up all of his available challenges, the crew chief can invoke replay review for non-home run calls starting in the eighth inning
  • Replay officials will be under a conditional two-minute guideline for review, though there is room for exceptions
  • Players are no longer allowed to make markers on the field (this was an issue last year in a game between the Mets and Dodgers)
  • An amendment to Rule 5.07 now formalizes the balk rule. Specifically, “A pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch.  If there is at least one runner on base, then such an action will be called as a balk under Rule 6.02(a).  If the bases are unoccupied, then it will be considered an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).” Think of this as the Carter Capps rule.
  • Rule 5.03 has also been amended. It “requires base coaches to position themselves behind the line of the coach’s box closest to home plate and the front line that runs parallel to the foul line prior to each pitch.  Once a ball is put in play, a base coach is allowed to leave the coach’s box to signal a player so long as the coach does not interfere with play.”

Nothing earth-shattering here. The intentional walk rule is obviously the biggest and most controversial change as we’ve seen in the last two weeks. Commissioner Rob Manfred has been quite focused on improving the pace of play. Certainly, making replay review wrap up quicker will help in that regard. Even better would be to do away with the challenge system entirely.

The field marker rule was mostly done to address an issue that came up last May after the Mets hosted the Dodgers at Citi Field. The Dodgers wanted to mark certain positions in the grass after determining positions with a rangefinder. The Mets did not allow it and later asked Major League Baseball for clarification.

The amendment to Rule 5.07 provides clarification for special cases like Capps, who’s now with the Padres: