Changing the Rules

Recently Major League Baseball announced a few rules changes that will be implemented in the upcoming season. The exhibition games begin this week in both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues. The rules changes were the first since 1996 when the strike zone was redefined. Some of the changes are very simple, just clarifications as Scout.com put it, but others are more substantial. Many of these changes went into effect in Minor League Baseball in 2006 and many of the amendments passed after discussion with the MLBPA in 2005 with the remainder being passed in 2006.

Rules 4.10(d), 4.11(d) and 4.12: Rules Related to tie games and suspended games – Rule 4.10(d) has been amended so that a regulation game called with the score tied now becomes a suspended game. A game that was tied in the bottom of the 5th inning or later and was called because of rain under the old rule the entire game would be replayed but the player’s stats counted. Under the new rule, the game will be suspended and picked up the next time the two teams are in the same park and resumed before the next scheduled game. If there are not any games remaining at that park, the next time the two teams meet in the other team’s park then the game will be resumed. If the game is the last one of the season, the game will be cancelled and called a tie game, unless it has an effect on the post-season. If the game does end up having an effect on post-season play, it will be replayed from the beginning. This rule change was recommended during the 2005 General Managers meeting.

Rule 8.04: Time limitation for pitcher to deliver the ball to the batter with no runners on base – Pitchers used to be able to take how ever long they wanted to throw a pitch….now the new rule states with no runners on base the pitcher must throw a pitch within 12 seconds of the time the pitcher receives the ball and the batter is ready in the box and alert to the pitcher, the timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball. The intent of this rule is to eliminate any unnecessary delays.

Rules 8.01(a) and 8.01(b): Pitcher’s position on the pitching rubber, delivery of ball to the batter – Pitchers, when throwing out of the stretch without any runners on base, used to have to bring his hands to a complete stop. Now the pitcher does not have to stop, unless there is a runner on base, the rule still applies. The pitcher must come to a stop when there are runners on base.

Rule 8.05(h): Penalty for pitcher delaying the game – The pitcher could be ejected from the game.

Rules 1.15(a) and 1.15 (c): Pitcher’s gloves – A pitcher used to be unable to wear a multi-colored glove. Now, as long as the umpire does not find it distractive, they can.

Rule 2.00: Definition of League President – A gender-neutral reference was added and the definition of the League President was slightly modified.

Rule 3.01: Game Preliminaries – This change removed the archaic references regarding official baseball and means of removing gloss. The new rule is now consistent with current practice at the professional level.

Rules 3.01(f) and 8.02(a): Rosin Bags – A new rule that stipulates that the umpire is to ensure that a rosin bag is placed on the pitcher’s mound prior to the game. The rule was amended to remove archaic reference of umpires carrying a rosin bag with them. Rule 8.02 (a) If at anytime a ball hits the rosin bag the ball will remain in play. In case of bad weather, the umpire can instruct the pitcher to carry the rosin bag in his back pocket.

Rules 6.05(a) and 7.04(c): Prohibits catching ball in dugout – Players used to be able to catch a foul ball in the dugout. Now they can still catch a ball in the dugout but both feet must remain outside of the dugout.

Rules 3.02 and 8.02(a): Intentionally defacing the baseball, penalty for violation – Under the old rule if a player defaced or intentionally scuffed the ball, a ball was called and the player was warned. Under the new rule, the player will be ejected and receive an automatic 10-game suspension.

Rules 6.09(b) and 7.08(a): Batter-runner attempting to advance after dropped third strike; batter-runner establishing his baselines – If a third strike was dropped under the old rule a player could run to first until he reached the dugout or his defensive position. Now a player will not be allowed to run to first base if he leaves the dirt circle around home plate, unless he does so in an attempt to reach first base. A player, now, may go outside of the 3-foot lane in foul territory “for the sole purpose of touching first base.” Rule 7.08(a)(1) has been modified for 2007 to include the interpretation currently used in professional baseball that a runner “establishes his own baseline.”

Rule 4.11: Under the old rule a player that hit a game-winning home run would not be allowed to score if a runner on base abandoned the base paths thinking the game was over. Under the new rule the player hitting the home run will be allowed to score and circle the bases even if the runner on base abandoned the base paths thinking the game was over as long as there were less than two outs when the home run was hit. If there are two outs when the home run us hit, the runner will be called out and the inning will end without the hitter being allowed to score.

The Playing Rules Committee extensively revised Official Baseball Rule 10 that will affect official scorers and scoring rules. According to MLB.com, an ad hoc advisory committee comprised of official scorers, club personnel and MLB staff recommended these changes.

  • A new definition of “ordinary effort” to guide scorers in making determinations on hits, errors and other rulings
  • The addition of many casebook comments to guide official scorers
  • The codification of an appeal process of official scorer decisions
  • A reorganization of certain scoring rules

Casebook comments and an appeals process were also added in order to help the official scorers and help them in decision making.

“Under Major League Rule 25(c), the Playing Rules Committee is charged with voting to amend the Official Baseball Rules.”

SourcesInside the Ivy (Scout.com) and MLB.com

Quote of the Day

"The man says 'play ball' not 'work ball,' you know." - Willie Stargell
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