Last year Major League Baseball outlawed the pitcher’s move of faking to third and throwing to first in an attempt to catch a runner off the base for an out.
This year when the teams take the field to begin the 2017 season, they will find another big change to how the game will be played. And once again the change involves the pitcher. The four pitches intentionally thrown out of the strike zone will no longer be a part of the game. If a team wishes to intentionally walk a batter, the manager will simply point to first base. While an official walk him signal has yet to be determined, the manager can point, yell, hold up a sign, or design his own walk him sign; but it must be the team’s manager who issues the sign to the home plate umpire.
Rob Manfred introduces Cal Ripken Jr. as the Senior Advisor to the Commissioner on Youth Programs and Outreach.
The office of the MLB Commissioner has complained for the past few years that the current game of baseball is too slow and takes too long to complete. Current Commissioner Rob Manfred feels that the speed of the game and the amount of inactivity during a game is one reason why the game is not attracting younger viewers. Manfred hopes that by eliminating the “inactivity” of the intentional walk pitches will improve the “pace of the game”.
Eliminating the intentional walk is the latest in the attempt to speed up the game, along with cutting down on the number of times a manager or pitching coach is allowed to visit the mound, adding a pitcher’s clock to speed up the time between pitches, and even adjusting the strike zone.
While the intentional walk play is rarely used, it will also have another impact on the pitcher…his pitch count. Every ball and strike thrown by a pitcher is counted; while rare, four less pitches may make the difference in allowing a pitcher to remain in the game for one more batter or being sent to the showers.
If Commissioner Manfred wants to speed up the game, perhaps he should look into adding the number of times a pitcher throws over to first base in the total pitch count since there are times when a pitcher may throw six and eight times during a single batter to first base in an attempt to pick off the runner.
photos courtesy of By User Onetwo1 on en.wikipedia – From en.wikipedia; description page is (was) here, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2422842
By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA – 2015 #WinterMeetings: Rob Manfred and Cal Ripken Jr., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45652432
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