MLB announces rule changes for 2015, hopes to shorten game times -

MLB announces rule changes for 2015, hopes to shorten game times

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By Patrick McDermott By Patrick McDermott

JJ Bailey / BaseballStL | @TheJJBailey

ST. LOUIS -- Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Players Association, announced Friday a list of rule changes for 2015 aimed at improving the pace of play. 

The average length of an MLB game last season was more than three hours. According to Forbes, only 13 teams had an average game length of less than 180 minutes

The rules, announced in a press release, will be effective starting during spring training and will continue through the postseason. The changes govern in-game action as well as time between innings and during pitching changes. Changes have also been made to the instant replay procedures. 

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Batter’s box rule

Perhaps the biggest alteration to in-game play, this requires batters to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box throughout the at bat, unless one of the following exceptions ocurrs: 

The batter swings at a pitch

The batter is forced out of the box by a pitch

Either team is granted Time

A defensive player attempts a play on a runner at any base

The batter attempts a bunt

A wild pitch or passed ball

The pitcher leaves the dirt area of the pitching mound 

The catcher leaves the catcher’s box to give defensive signals

If the umpire feels the batter has violated the rule, which was in place in the minors in 2014, they can award a strike, and the ball is dead. 

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Addition of timers

Two timers will be installed in each stadium in order to govern the break time between innings. One will be on the outfield scoreboard and the other will be behind home plate. Once the third out of the half inning is recorded, the timer will begin counting down. 

For locally-televised games, there will be 2:25 on the clock, for national games the clock will have 2:45. 

An MLB representative will operate the timers and the release lays out the following timetable:

40 seconds remaining: PA announces batter and starts walk-up music

30 seconds remaining: Pitcher throws final warm-up pitch

25 seconds remaining: Batter’s walk-up music ends

20-5 seconds: Batter enters the box

20-0 seconds: Pitcher begins his delivery

Pitchers traditionally get eight warm-up pitches, but the new rule states that any unused pitches are forfeit after the 30 second mark arrives. Pitchers are allowed to throw as many warm-up pitches as they want before that time. 

There will be exceptions in place if a pitcher or catcher ended the prior half-inning at bat or on base. 

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MLB says the rules will be enforced through a warning and fine system, and flagrant violators will face disciplinary penalties. There will be no fines issued in spring training or through April of the season. 

Instant replay

Whether a runner left the base early or whether he properly touched a base on a tag-up is now a reviewable play. 

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A manager will retain his challenge after every overturned call, as opposed to last season in which the manager only retained it after the first overturned call. 

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Managers will have two challenges per game in the postseason, the All-Star Game and regular season tiebreakers. 

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A manager must use a challenge to review home plate collision rule violations. Last season, those plays could be reviewed separate of a challenge, but a call on the field could still be reversed even if there was no collision rule violation. This allowed managers to challenge the call at home under the guise of checking the collision rule without risking losing their official challenge. In 2015, that is no longer possible. 

However, if the manager is out of challenges after the start of the seventh inning, the crew chief may still choose to review the play if they believe there was a collision rule violation.

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Managers may now challenge a play from the dugout instead of coming onto the field. Last season, managers would approach the ump that made the call, effectively buying time for their replay crew to decide if the team should challenge. This season, managers will not leave their dugout unless they are challenging an inning-ending play. 

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There will be no instant replay in spring training, but any exhibition games at MLB parks will have it in place. 

Do you like the proposed rule changes? Share your thoughts.

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