The Major League Baseball competition committee is set to vote Friday on rule changes that will begin in 2023 that include the first-ever stadium clock, a repeal of the change, larger rules and a limit on the number of times a bowler can quit rubber, according to sources familiar with the situation.
The goal is to increase the action on the field, speed up the pace and reduce the amount of time it takes to play a major league game. Changes to the rules are expected to include:
• A 15-second pitch clock with empty bases and a 20-second clock with runners.
• Two rubber bonding chapters – including capture attempts – for each panel appearance.
• Hitters are required to be in the hitter’s chest and “alert” with 8 seconds to go on the clock. Hitters are allowed one timeout per board appearance.
• Only two intruders will be allowed on each side of the second base with all four on the dirt (or indoor grass).
• Players cannot position themselves on the outside turf before throwing the field.
• The size of the bases will be increased from 15 inches square to 18 inches.
Major League Baseball has been interacting with the extensive research they have conducted through fan and player surveys over the past several years while testing changes at all levels of the minor leagues. With the advancements in technology in shooting and defense over the past decade, the league believes the changes are an evening approach to hitters’ court while making it an even more enjoyable product in the form of defensive sports returning to the game.
The clock will start when the bowler receives the ball from his holder or from the referee – and play is ready to resume. Most of the time, it’s after every throw, but this could include a moment for a runner to get back into the bag or a ball boy to clear the field, for example. The referees will have to whistle to signal the end of the court clock which will result in the ball being called. If the hitters aren’t ready with 8 seconds left on the clock, the strike will be a problem. Each hitter will be allowed one time limit per board appearance. Hill visits are limited to 30 seconds unless they are due to an injury.
Pitchers can shoot the rubber twice per board appearance without penalty but after the third move – which does not result in a grab – a handicap will be called. In other words, the bowler can throw to first base up to three times, but the third attempt must result in an exit or the runner advances to base. The disengagement rule is reset when the runner reaches a new rule. With no runners, the third step would lead to a visit to the hill.
The referees will monitor the players to ensure that they are leveled correctly before the ball leaves the bowler’s hand. Like receivers in a soccer game, players can ask the referees if they are properly located with two players required on each side of the second and none of them are allowed on the outside turf. If a throw is thrown while the defending team violates the new shift rules, the battering team can choose the outcome of the next play or the ball to the batter. This is the only game of new rules that can be reviewed. Players cannot switch positions within an inning unless one of them is substituted.
An increase in the size of the bases should reduce the casualties around them while increasing the attempts of the base stolen. Both checked into the palace when the larger bases were tested.
ESPN’s Jeff Bassan contributed to this report.