Major League Baseball and the Players Association have approved some changes to the official baseball rules for 2016.
The first change, new Rule 6.01(j), doesn’t prohibit a baserunner in a potential double play situation from making contact with a fielder, but it does require the runner to make a bona fide attempt to reach and remain on base without changing his pathway to the base or using a “roll block” for the purpose of forcing a collision.
Failure to abide could result in an interference call with both the runner and the batter-runner called out.
Here’s the full text of the new rule:
Rule 6.01(j) - Sliding To Bases On Double Play Attempts
If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference under this Rule 6.01. A "bona fide slide" for purposes of Rule 6.01 occurs when the runner:
(1) begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base; (2) is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot; (3) is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after completion of the slide; and (4) slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.
A runner who engages in a "bona fide slide" shall not be called for interference under this Rule 6.01, even in cases where the runner makes contact with the fielder as a consequence of a permissible slide. In addition, interference shall not be called where a runner's contact with the fielder was caused by the fielder being positioned in (or moving into) the runner's legal pathway to the base.Notwithstanding the above, a slide shall not be a "bona fide slide" if a runner engages in a "roll block," or intentionally initiates (or attempts to initiate) contact with the fielder by elevating and kicking his leg above the fielder's knee or throwing his arm or his upper body.
If the umpire determines that the runner violated this Rule 6.01(j), the umpire shall declare both the runner and batter-runner out. Note, however, that if the runner has already been put out then the runner on whom the defense was attempting to make a play shall be declared out.
Speeding things along
Baseball worked at improving the pace of the game in 2015. New measures imposed last season shaved average game time for a 9-inning game to two hours, 56 minutes, an improvement of six minutes off the previous season (though only two minutes better than the 2013 average).
In 2016, MLB hopes to do more to quicken game pace by timing manager and pitching coach visits to the mound and limiting them to no longer than 30 seconds.
In addition, and perhaps surprisingly given its likely impact on television advertising revenue, MLB is cutting break times between innings to two minutes, five seconds for locally broadcast games and two minutes, 25 seconds for national broadcasts. That’s 20 seconds less advertising time than last year’s imposed limits.
Also this second MLB will allow instant replay review for so-called “neighborhood plays,” which previously were not reviewable.
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