NEW YORK – A runner would be put on second base at the start of the 11th inning of the All-Star Game and each additional inning, according to the latest pace-of-game proposal by Major League Baseball.
The experiment also would be used in the 10th inning of spring training games, according to the Jan. 9 proposal obtained by The Associated Press. Spring training games would be capped at 10 innings.
Concerned about injuries in games that don’t count, the players’ association isn’t expected to oppose the concept. MLB isn’t considering using the rule in any games that count.
Baseball experimented with the rule last year at the rookie level Gulf Coast and Arizona leagues, putting a runner on second base starting in the 10th. Extra-inning games in those two leagues averaged 27 minutes longer than nine-inning games, down from 43 minutes for all other minor leagues.
Unable thus far to negotiate a deal with players for a pitch clock or limits on mound visits, baseball owners discuss their next step this week during meetings that end Thursday in Beverly Hills, California.
Commissioner Rob Manfred met Jan. 23 with union head Tony Clark. Manfred has long vowed to make changes for this season with or without an agreement but says his preference is for a deal and is willing to negotiate the rules.
MLB has the right to implement the proposal it made last offseason, which includes a 30-second clock between batters and a 20-second clock between pitches that would reset when a pitcher steps off the rubber and when he makes or feints a pickoff throw, according to details obtained by the AP. There also would be a limit of one mound trip per pitcher each inning, whether by a manager, coach or player, and a second visit would result in a pitching change. Violations would be punished by ball-strike penalties.
Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the 2017 regular season and 3:29 during the postseason. Players have resisted a pitch clock while appearing slightly more amenable to limits on mound visits.
Los Angeles Angels owner Arne Moreno is among those who doesn’t think radical changes are needed.
“We just watched a World Series game that lasted over five hours and my wife hung with me the whole night,” he said last week at the Hall of Fame news conference. “I would probably say I’m a traditionalist and let them play.”
Under the latest MLB proposal, there would be a pitch timer this year only when no runners are on base and it would be set to 18 seconds. A 20-second timer with runners on base would be added for 2019.
The clock would not be used for the pitch following a foul ball or an umpire calling time, and there would be no penalties this year during spring training or April. Starting in May, each player would receive a warning for a violation and penalties would not start until a team’s third violation in a game. A player, manager or coach leaving the bench to argue a violation call would be automatically ejected.
There would be a 35-second timer between at-bats, and while there would not ball-strike penalties for violations this year, frequent violators would be subject to discipline for “just cause.” The MLB proposal says management would agree to the union’s Jan. 5 counterproposal that ball-strike penalties start May 1, 2019, if the average time between plays in 2018 is 46 seconds or more or the average time of a nine-inning game through Aug. 31 this year is three hours or more.
Management also would agree to the union’s proposal there be a between-inning and pitching change timer of 2:05 for most games, 2:25 for national television games and 2:55 for tiebreaker and postgame games. There would be no ball-strike penalties this year. If an inning ends when a pitcher is on base, at the plate of on deck, the clock would start when the pitcher leaves the dugout for the mound. If an inning ends with the catch on base, at the plate or on deck, the clock would start when he enters the dugout.
Both sides would agree that there be no ball-strike penalties for inning-break violations until May 1, 2019. Management’s trigger for violations would be that inning breaks for locally broadcast games this year average 2:25 of more or the average time of a nine-inning game through Aug. 31 this year is three hours or more. The timer would be set at 2:25 for locally broadcast games, 2:45 for national TV games and 3:15 for tiebreaker and postseason games. In the first season of a between-innings time, a team would receive three warnings before a ball-strike penalty is imposed.
Mound visits without a pitching change would be limited to six per team over the first nine innings with one additional trip each extra inning. The amount for the first nine innings would drop to five in any season after the average time of nine-inning games through Aug. 31 is three hours or more. Additional mound trips would be allowed after pitcher-catcher cross-ups on pitch signals.
Teams also agreed at the union’s option they either would make a $100,000 contribution to the union’s Players Trust charity for each minute the average game time in a season through Aug. 31 drops below three hours or make a $500,000 total gift to the players on the teams with the two quickest game time averages and the two teams with the greatest improvement. Players on a team would have the option to donate their share to charity.
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