PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Major changes are coming to Major League Baseball next year that will affect how the game is played.
The changes are modeled after rule adjustments made in the minor leagues.
“Baseball, in its purest form, is like chess on a much bigger board. So you know that you’re going to see something a little bit slower paced,” said Dan Hasty, the play-by-play voice for the West Michigan Whitecaps.
But Hasty said that even baseball fans believe games are being dragged out for too long, thanks to frequent mound visits and a lot of time being taken at the plate.
“This was already something people knew when they walked into a ballpark. But it’s gotten to go to such a far extreme that baseball needed to implement some type of a change,” Hasty said.
Making its minor league debut in the 2022 season was a pitch clock, which put a time limit on how long pitchers can hold onto the baseball between throws. Hasty confessed he had some preconceived notions about the change.
“I didn’t know how much it would speed the game up. I was skeptical. I am happy to admit I was wrong,” Hasty said. “This game got significantly faster. Gone are the days where we see game times of three hours and 45 minutes, four hours and 15 minutes. … Now, games this year were played in as fast as an hour and 51 minutes. Games flew.”
Now the pitch clock will be called up to the majors in 2023, among other rule changes. The MLB pitch clock will have 15 seconds with bases empty, or 20 seconds if there is a base runner.
“Please give it a shot,” Hasty said to fans not feeling the change. “In Minor League Baseball, we have seen an improvement in the flow of the game. We finally got it back to that place where it was 20 and 30 years ago … when it didn’t feel like it was moving at such a snail’s pace. I think that’s a huge step forward for the game.”
A second rule change is that the bases for first, second and third are larger: increasing from a 15-inch square to 18 inches wide. The third is a restriction on the controversial infield shift. With the new rule, two infielders have to be on each side of second base with their feet in the infield before the pitch is thrown.
The full breakdown of the rules can be found at mlb.com.