Minor League Baseball has some new rules for extra innings, and they have the Internet in a tizzy.
The procedures, which MiLB says were made in partnership with Major League Baseball, "aim to reduce the number of pitchers used in extra innings and the issues created by extra innings games", which include position players being used as pitchers and shortages of pitchers in the days following unusually long games.
If an umpire determines a pitcher and catcher are crossed up in signs, an extra mound visit is granted beyond the allotment.More news: Colombia Holds Historic Congressional Elections Amid Rebel Truce
The rule change that is likely to make the biggest impact on both ends is that in extra innings, the person in the batting order who is right before the leadoff batter will automatically be on second base.
The average time of a nine-inning game in the minor leagues dropped from 2 hours, 49 minutes in 2014 to 2:43 the following year.
Major League Baseball had hoped to have a similar rule for spring training and starting in the 11th inning of the All-Star Game but was stymied by the Major League Baseball Players Association, which refused to agree.
The goal is to reduce the number of pitchers used in extra innings, as well address some of the issues that crop up as a result of an extra innings games, like the shortage of players in the games that follow, position players forced to pitch, and the shuffling of pitchers within the organization due to pitching shortages caused by extra innings games. Double-A clubs such as the Portland Sea Dogs will be allowed eight mound visits per game by coaches or position players.More news: Sierra Leone opposition candidate edges ahead in presidential poll
At the Double-A and Triple-A levels, a 15-second pitch clock is being implemented when there are no runners on base. Pitchers will be allowed 15 seconds to begin their wind-up or the motion to come to the set position when no runners are on base.
-The timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber, the catcher is in the catcher's box and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
If the pitcher fails to begin his delivery within the allotted times, the batter will be awarded a ball. It would nearly make sense, then, to give each team the option of beginning the inning with a runner on second with nobody out or a runner on third with one out.
But that won't be fully regulated until after the first 15 days of the season (April 5-19), which minor league baseball plans to use as a grace period, with players receiving warnings for infractions. If the batter isn't in the batter's box with seven seconds left on the clock, then a strike will be awarded. Beginning April 20, rules will be enforced as written.More news: Recent Analysts Ratings MGM Resorts International (MGM)