Tag Archives: Pace of Play Initiatives

Atlantic League and MLB Announce Partnership

Official press release courtesy of the Atlantic League:

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Agreement to test experimental playing rules and equipment initiatives
Major League Baseball (MLB) announced today that it has reached a three-year agreement with the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) that will permit MLB to test experimental playing rules and equipment during the Atlantic League’s Championship Season. In addition to rules governing the transfer of players from the Atlantic League to Major League Baseball, the new agreement includes rights for MLB to implement changes to Atlantic League playing rules in order to observe the effects of potential future rule changes and equipment. MLB will work with ALPB to modify the experimental playing rules and equipment each season during the agreement.

MLB also will enhance its scouting coverage of the Atlantic League, installing radar tracking technology in the eight Atlantic League ballparks and providing statistical services to ALPB clubs.

The new agreement continues Major League Baseball’s longstanding practice of testing potential new approaches under game conditions. In recent years, MLB has utilized and evaluated experimental rules in its Arizona Fall League, the game’s top off-season developmental platform.

“We are excited to announce this new partnership with the Atlantic League,” said Morgan Sword, MLB’s Senior Vice President, League Economics & Operations. “We look forward to bringing some of the best ideas about the future of our game to life in a highly competitive environment.”

Atlantic League President Rick White added: “The Atlantic League prides itself on innovation. In that spirit, our Board of Directors, led by Chairman and Founder Frank Boulton, enthusiastically and unanimously approved this forward-looking agreement.”

Major League Baseball and the Atlantic League will announce the experimental playing rule and equipment changes for the 2019 ALPB Championship Season in the coming weeks.

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) 

With eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent over 900 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 40 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 22-year history.

For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.


It should be noted that the Atlantic League has been implementing various pace of play techniques for years. In 2015, Indy Ball Island covered some of these changes in: The Atlantic League – Leading the Way in Pace of Play or Publicity Stunt? 

Baseball America’s JJ Cooper wrote about changes that could be coming to the Atlantic League this season.

While no one with the Atlantic League would confirm the changes, Baseball America has learned that that the rules tweaks are expected to include moving back the pitcher’s mound and using Trackman to call balls and strikes, both rules changes that have long been suggested but are significant enough to require plenty of in-game testing.

The entire article can be found at: Atlantic League Expected To Add Robo-Umps, Other Changes From New MLB Agreement.

Players interested in playing in the Atlantic League can check out our Tryout/Showcase information here: Atlantic League Player Showcase.

 

 

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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.