Tag Archives: Atlantic league

The Atlantic League – Leading the Way in Pace of Play or Publicity Stunt?

The independent Atlantic League is no stranger to the Pace of Play initiative to speed up the game of baseball.  In June of 2014, the league formed a Pace of Play Committee.  The committee is “tasked with reviewing ways to reduce the average time and enliven the pace of baseball games in order to enhance overall fan experience.”

After reviewing extensive data collected throughout the 2013 season and soliciting ideas from the fans, media, and baseball personnel, the committee worked on implementing different pace of play rules during the 2014 season.

As of August 1, 2014, five pace of play rules were put in place for all Atlantic League  games.

  1. The Time-Out Rule – “The defensive team, including any manager, coach or player, shall be limited during a game to a total of three (3) “time-outs” in which mound visits or on-the-field conferences are conducted with a pitcher.” Each “time-out” is also limited to 45 seconds.
  2. Directing umpires to apply and enforce Rule 6.02 and Rule 8.04 – “The Atlantic League office shall intensify its directives to the umpires and direct them to be more diligent applying and enforcing Rule 6.02 (restricting batters ‘stepping out’ of the box) and Rule 8.04 (requiring the pitcher to deliver the ball within 12 seconds when the bases are unoccupied).”
  3. Directing umpires to control the pace of play – “ALPB umpires shall be reminded that they control the pace of play and that they need to exercise that control and move the game on in a timely manner.
    The umpires shall adhere to the strike zone as defined in Rule 2.00 and to observe that definition when calling pitches ‘balls’ or ‘strikes.”’
  4. Reducing the number of warm-up pitches – “Reduce the limit for preparatory ‘warm-up’ pitches at the beginning of an inning, or when a relief pitcher enters the game, from 8 to 6 (as provided for in Rule 8.03).”
  5. Automatic awarding of an intentional walk – “When a manager or catcher of the defensive team indicates to the home plate umpire they wish to issue an intentional base on balls, the batter is to be automatically awarded first base without the need for the pitcher to deliver four balls.”

You can read the rationale for the decisions HERE.

In addition to the rules already in place, they are also reviewing six other potential pace of play initiatives.

  1. “At the start of each half inning, require that the leadoff batter take his position in the batter’s box and the pitcher take his position on the rubber and be prepared to deliver his first pitch within 120 seconds from the time of the last out in the preceding half inning.”
  2. “Install stadium “shot clocks” to time and count down (a) the delivery of the pitch to the batter, (b) timeouts, (c) pitching changes, and (d) the interval from the last out of one half inning to the first pitch of the next half inning.”
  3. “Amend Rule 3.05 (b) so as to require a relief pitcher to pitch to more than one batter during the inning in which he enters the game.”
  4. “Develop an on-going program to educate players, managers, coaches, umpires and administrators about the need to be attentive to the pace of play.”
  5. “Initiate an electronic system that would provide for communication and relaying of signs from the dugout to the catcher and/or the pitcher.”
  6. “Modify or eliminate the DH rule.”

Even more initiatives have been tabled for future review. The rules listed for future review can be found HERE.

The Pace of Play committee has already rejected five rules that were found to be completely irrelevant or impractical to put into place during a game.

  1. “Limit the number of pitching changes a team may make.”
  2. “Raise the height of the pitching mound.”
  3. “Limit the number of foul balls allowed a batter once he has two strikes.” *Take note of this rule*
  4. “Disallow batters who have become base runners from discarding their elbow sleeves and other protective armor.”
  5. “Outlaw Velcro batting gloves.”

The Atlantic League is looking to take things one step further to speed up the game, but only for one exhibition game. The league announced that they will try two more pace of play rules when the Bridgeport Bluefish visit the Long Island Ducks on April 18th.  These two rules were proposed by a 68-year old baseball fan and author, Paul Auster.

The batter will:

  • be given a walk for three balls rather than four and
  • be called out for a two-strike foul ball. (Which is a lot like the rule completely dismissed by the committee.)

The Atlantic League president, Rick White, claimed that these rules were not being considered for the long term, but that they are going to continue as an “experimental laboratory for ways to improve the pace of games.”

But why even put these rules, which greatly change the dynamic (not just the pace) of the game, into place for one exhibition game? Why use different rules for an exhibition game where there will be players who are trying to get noticed and land a spot on the team?

If the league isn’t seriously considering these drastic changes, is it just a way to get fans in the seats and the Atlantic League in the news?

Let’s stop trying to be a publicity stunt and just play the game as it was meant to be played, balls and strikes included.

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Speeding Up the Sport. Should Baseball Have to Pick Up the Pace?

This season, Major League Baseball and their newly established “pace of game committee” are using the Arizona Fall League (AFL) to implement new rules (or enforce rules that have otherwise been ignored in the past) that are designed to speed up the game.  The AFL is being used as a “try-out” to see if these rules would be the correct thing to put into place throughout baseball and the MLB.  As baseball has grown throughout the years, so has the average time of a game.  This year, the average game time was 3 hours and 2 minutes compared to just 2 hours and 33 minutes in 1981.  The ultimate goal is to quicken the pace and have games that end under 3 hours again.

These pace of game rules include:

Three “Timeout” limit.  Managers, coaches, and catchers are only allowed three visits to the mound during the game (excluding pitching changes or injuries.)

No-pitch intentional walks. Managers signal to the umpire for an intentional walk, and the batter takes 1st base without a pitch being thrown.

Batter Box Rule. The hitter must have one foot inside the batter’s box throughout the entire at bat unless there is a foul ball, wild pitch, pass ball, or a pitch that forces the batter outside the box, or if the hitter is granted time by the umpire.

2:30 pitching change. The max time for a pitching change is two and a half minutes.

2:05 inning break. The max time between innings is two minutes and 5 seconds.  The batter must be in the box at 1:45 or the umpire can call a strike. Also, the umpire can call a ball if the pitcher throws after the 2:05 mark.

20 second rule. (used at Salt River Field only.)  There is a 20 second clock posted in the dugouts as well as behind homeplate and in the outfield to prevent the pitchers from taking too much time. This is being used as a modified version of rule 8.04 that requires a pitcher to deliver a pitch within 12 seconds after receiving the ball with the bases unoccupied.

The rules that are being put into place in the AFL are nothing new.  Most of these rules have been used or discussed for future use in some capacity in the independent Atlantic League.

Along with the batter’s box rule, 12 second pitch rule, the no-pitch intentional walk, and the three timeouts, the Atlantic league also has rules to:

Enforce the rule book strike zone. Umpires must be consistent and use the strike zone listed in Rule 2.00 which states that the strike zone stretches from the hollow beneath the kneecap to the midpoint between the shoulder and batter’s waist.

Reduce the number of warm up pitches from 8 to 6.

Pinch Runners for catchers.  Pinch runners must replace catchers as soon as they reach base to ensure that catchers are suited up in time for the next half inning.

Extra innings are also being shortened around the independent leagues.  The American Association is looking to implement an extra inning rule that has already been in place by the Can-Am league.  After 10 innings, the batter before the leadoff hitter will be placed on second base.  The inning would then precede as normal. (If the runner scores, the runner will be given a R and the hitter batting him in would get an RBI, but the run will not be charged against the pitcher’s ERA.)  A version of this rule is already used in the World Baseball Classic and with the International Baseball Federation.

All of these rules are being established to speed up the game and pace of play.  Do you think these are good ideas or do you think it will ruin the sport?