With the new rule changes, what effects will be felt?
Recently, Major League Baseball announced two rule changes that will be effective for the 2016 season. One of the rules deals with base runners sliding into second base and protecting the safety of the second basemen and shortstops turning double-plays and the other speeds up the game by limiting the length of mound visits.
The first rule that the MLB changed with regards to sliding into second base almost comes directly as a result of two devastating injuries suffered by star players on World Series contending teams late last season. Both Jung Ho Kang of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Ruben Tejada of the New York Mets had season-ending injuries that came as a result of a base runner sliding to break up the double play. The Cardinals are also apart of this. In the 2012 NLCS, Matt Holliday took out Marco Scutaro on a very questionable take out slide.Traditionally, rather than sliding towards the base, base runners will intentionally slide into the fielder to prevent him from turning the double play. These plays leave the fielders exposed from incoming sliders.
With the new rule change, a base runner sliding into second base must comply with four criteria. First, the runner must begin the slide before reaching the base. Second, the runner must try to touch the base with their body. Third, the runner must remain on the base after the slide, except going into home plate. And, fourth and finally, the base runner cannot change the path of their slide to intentionally make contact with the fielder. These four criteria are deemed review-able and if the base runner fails to comply by these rules after review, he will be called out.
— Anna Cushing (@AnnaCushingUMN) February 28, 2016
Even though this rule clearly makes the game safer and encourages fairer play, fans should definitely expect teams to take a little bit to adjust to this rule. I fully expect managers to be ejected for challenging these rulings, especially early on.
The second rule comes to limit mound visits by managers and pitching coaches. One of the biggest complaint about the MLB is how long each game takes on average. As a result, the league’s front office has implemented several rules over the last couple years to shorten the length of games. Now, mound visits are limited to 30 seconds. The league wants the length of mound visits to match the average commercial length, so that when the broadcast resumes, the game can hopefully resume as well.
Undoubtedly, both of these new rules have been implemented by the league to make the game “better.” Neither of these rule changes are major, but they will in fact help make the game more enjoyable for the fan to watch.