The 2023 MLB season will begin on March 30 and will bring with it a number of rule changes that are intended to improve the pace of play and increase the action. The arrival of the pitching timer, restrictions on defensive shifts and larger bases are rewriting the game, but not all players are happy.
To keep the pace of each game more frenzied, in MLB’s words, there will be a 30-second timer between batters and a shorter limit between pitches. Pitchers will be required to begin their movement 15 seconds after receiving the ball with empty bases or 20 seconds after picking it up with runners on base. If they don’t, they will be punished with an automatic ball.
Pitchers, in addition, may only leave the mound twice per visit to the plate with a runner on first. After an out, the clock starts over.
The defensive team will need to have at least four players in the infield, with at least two fully positioned on one side of second base. This restriction is designed to allow infielders to showcase their skills with defensive plays.
It’s obviously a move to please the fans with little regard for the players. MLB has, for the past few years, sought ways to increase fan engagement, even if it means sacrificing the integrity of the game.
First, second and third bases went from 15″ per side to 18″, while home plate will remain the same size. The league says the change is for safety, as runners and basemen will have more room to maneuver without crashing.
However, since most collisions happen at home plate, the concern is moot. In addition, runners could begin to steal more bases since there is now 6″ less between the two.
New Rules Start Immediately
The new rules will go into effect for all Spring Training games, allowing for an adjustment period before Opening Day of the 2023 season. Umpires will start punishing rule breakers with the first crack of the bat – no grace period to allow for adjustments.
With MLB determined to address the problem of longer games with less action, the league reportedly conducted an “extensive study” with baseball fans to determine what they thought would be the ideal MLB game.
They overwhelmingly wanted to see a number of changes they thought would improve the action. Above all, they wanted the pace of the game to be faster.
Players Clap Back
The league asked fans for their input, but didn’t do much consultation with players. Nick Pivetta, the pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, is one player who isn’t happy with the new rules. In particular, he doesn’t like the idea of a timer on the mound.
Teammate Alex Cora spoke out, as well. He’s not happy with the new size of the bases, which could lead to more injuries and a complete change in the dynamic of the game.
MLB’s decision to move forward with the rules was a smack in the face to all players. Pivetta said in a recent interview that the majority of the players voted against the changes. However, this didn’t stop the league from implementing them, a sign that it isn’t interested in the player’s perspective.