There are a couple of rule changes on the way for baseball in 2016, and I'm pretty sure that we can all agree that these are some pretty positive changes, and they have to do with "takeout" slides and mound visits. If you don't agree, then I'm sure that we'll hear all about it in the comments section, so go ahead and start drafting your thoughts right now because I'm also sure that you'll have someone to debate with. But before you do that, let's take a look at the changes that were made.
First, let's talk about the changes concerning slides at second base. MLB has amended these rules in an effort to cut out extremely dangerous slides that saw Ruben Tejada and Jung-Ho Kang suffer serious injury due to runners making little-to-no effort to actually take second base and were obviously trying to interrupt a potential double play. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was able to clearly outline the amendment here:
• Slide prior to reaching the base.
• Slide so you are able to and attempt to reach or touch the base.
• Slide so you are able to and attempt to stay on the base.
• Do not change your pathway to the base.
Runners who follow those four rules are allowed to take out the fielder legally, according to the rule. People at MLB and the MLB Players Association, who together negotiated the changes, expect the rule to encourage fielders to stand on the back of the second-base bag, where he’d likely be safe if the runner abides by the standards. Slides that do not will result in an automatic double play, sources said.
In addition, the neighborhood play is now subject to review. That's pretty interesting because that's a rule that's beneficial to defenders, so the fact that they're willing to make that reviewable really tells you just how important this issue is to the players and what they're willing to do to stay safe on the field.
Meanwhile, baseball is continuously trying to find new ways to improve the pace of the game, and one of the things that can add on needless time to the game is a manager and/or pitching coach visiting the mound. Sometimes you see coaches take brisk jogs to the mound, but there are some guys who like to take a leisurely saunter to the mound.
The latter will have to pick up the pace, because MLB will be putting a 30-second time limit on mound visits. The second a coach leaves the dugout, he has 30 seconds to return, and there will be an in-stadium clock that keeps track of the 30 seconds. Granted, it doesn't seem like there's going to be a major penalty for breaking the 30-second rule, but I'd imagine that if they keep on breaking the rules then we'll probably see an umpire eventually get fed up and start handing out trips to the locker room. This would probably have to be egregious -- like continuously taking 60 seconds instead of 30 -- for us to start seeing ejections, but I'd imagine that we won't see people getting the hook for taking 35 seconds.
So, the "time limit" isn't a huge deal, but as long as everybody adheres to the spirit of the rule, then we'll hopefully see the pace of the game speed up some more, and I'm sure that we're all in favor of that, right? Both of these changes appear to be pretty positive, and as long as we don't see people within the game try to push back against it just because they prefer the old ways, then this should improve the game, and that's a win for everybody involved.