With the NFL season kicking off and the majority of sports fans switching their attention to pro football, Major League Baseball is getting ready to vote on some changes set to go into effect next year that will hopefully keep viewers more engaged in what is happening on the diamond on 2023 and beyond.
MLB’s 11-person competition committee, which was formed this year following the lockout as part of the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners, is expected to approve the introduction of a pitch clock, a ban on the defensive shift and larger bases for the 2023 MLB season as soon as today, according to The Athletic.
Though they may anger purists, all three of those changes should theoretically help improve offense and scoring in the league as well as reduce the amount of time when there is nothing happening on the field. To reengage fans who have become more accustomed to staring at their phones than watching what is happening in front of them, more action and more scoring are exactly what the doctor ordered and MLB, for once, should be commended for implementing changes that will actually help the game.
Here’s a rundown of what to expect:
- A pitch clock that will count down 15 seconds with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runners on base.
- Catchers will be required to be in the catcher’s box with nine seconds left on the clock. Hitters will be required to be in the batter’s box and focused on the pitcher with eight seconds remaining. Violations for either will result in a ball called against a pitcher and a strike called against a batter.
- A batter can ask an umpire for time once per plate appearance. Following the initial ask, time will be granted only at the umpire’s discretion if the request is made while the batter is in the box.
- To eliminate the shift (which needs to go), four players other than the pitcher and the catcher need to be in front of the outfield grass when a pitch is thrown. Two of the four players need to be on either side of second base.
- During each plate appearance, only two pickoff attempts or steps off the rubber will be allowed. If a third attempt is made and is unsuccessful, a balk will be called.
- The size of bases will increase to 18-inch squares from 15 inches in the hopes that stolen bases will increase.
It’s going to be weird. But it’s also going to be good to see baseball finally adapting its gameplay and rules to make itself a more appealing product — the same way every other major American sport has done.