MLB is apparently about to vote on fixing baseball, with the primary goal of closing this thread or getting @jon abbey
to rename it. ESPN article:
- A 15-second pitch clock with the bases empty and a 20-second clock with runners on
- Two disengagements from the rubber -- including pickoff attempts -- per plate appearance
- A requirement by hitters to be in the batter's box and "alert" with eight seconds to go on the clock. Hitters are allowed one timeout per plate appearance
- Only two infielders will be allowed on each side of second base, with all four required to be on the dirt (or inner grass)
- Infielders cannot position themselves on the outfield grass before the pitch is thrown
- Bases will increase in size from 15 inches squared to 18
(more details in article, obviously)
The ban on the shift feels... moderate. I don't love it, because it feels like the kind of thing you should leave up to the defense on how they want to play, but if the SS is positioned right on the 2B bag and moves a few steps to his left as the pitch is thrown, while the 2B moves back a few steps, it's really not that big an imposition. The only part that I'm unsure about is this note from the article: "Infielders cannot switch positions within an inning unless one of them is replaced." Seems to me that notifying the ump should be sufficient. And, I'm assuming that just means a distinction between an infielder and an outfielder, i.e. that you need to have at least 4 infielders + catcher at all times, and that if the 3B and SS "switch spots", it doesn't matter. But could you bring in an OF as a 5th infielder for "prevent a groundout from scoring a guy on third" situations, and have him play anywhere?
Anyway, I led with that one because I'm 100% on board with everything else, particularly the pitch clocks.
The thing I don't quite get is the "max 2 disengagements by pitcher per PA". I'm not opposed in principle, I just don't quite follow how it'll work. If there's a runner on, and you throw over once, and a few pitches later you try to get him again and fail, the runner now knows you can't attempt another pickoff
, at least not without penalty. Right? I immediately wondered: As soon as the pitcher comes set, can the runner then take off, and the pitcher has to deliver to the catcher before an attempt can be made to put the runner out? And that answer is "no", with a "but". Here's the bit on this one in particular from the ESPN article:
OK, so if you've thrown over twice without result, and he takes off next pitch and the pitcher throws over to get in a rundown, maybe he's put out. But if he's not, and he (say) takes second, is he then awarded third on the balk, for not having been put out by the third attempt?
Seems to me the easier thing to do is to exclude situations from penalty where the runner is actually
trying to steal a base, as opposed to just taking a lead. If the runner was on first, and the rubber disengagement led to a play or call at second, balk does not apply, and the throw-over count resets. Or something.