New MLB Rules: Helpful or Detrimental?


As MLB fans tuned into the opening weeks of the baseball season, significant changes were present. To combat slow, drawn out games, the MLB competition committee approved several rules to be introduced in the 2023 season. While the changes may make the game more entertaining to watch, which is the ultimate goal of such rules, it eliminates what makes baseball America’s pastime.

The first of the rules, and most significant, is a pitch clock. Pitchers have 15 seconds to deliver each pitch with no runners on base, and twenty seconds with runners on base. The clock starts the moment the catcher catches the pitch and stops each time the pitcher “begins his motion to pitch.” This has sped up the pace of play of MLB games, with some games ending up less than two hours, something unheard of previously in the MLB.

Another rule includes the elimination of the shift, which says that, in the infield, two players must be on each side of second base, and not positioned in the outfield grass. This stops the ability to put the third baseman on the right side of the field, a commonly used strategy to combat a heavy lefty pull hitter. This rule is in place to try and raise batting averages that were at an all time low the previous year.

Additionally, the bases are bigger, going from 15 square inches to 18 square inches, and pitchers can only “disengage” or pick off only two times with every batter. The latter of the rules has resulted in base runners stealing early after a pitcher has picked off twice, knowing the pitcher cannot pick off a third time.

Overall, the reason for the rules are understandable, and they have served their purpose so far this season. So, they are effective allowing a quicker pace to the game. But, they remove an uniqueness that makes baseball what it is: a game without a clock, a thinking man’s game.

Baseball has never had any form of clock, but now that is eliminated, it shifts the type of game baseball is, making it faster-paced and more hitter friendly. This does create more excitement undoubtedly, which will attract more viewers. The shift for example gives advantages to the hitter, allowing them to have a tendency in their hitting that cannot be combatted. This destroys one strategy in baseball, and strategy is what characterizes the sport. 

Furthermore, the mind games played by stalling and picking off several times are also gone, eliminating the thinking aspects behind the sport. So, it comes down to what the viewer values more, sticking in the past and cherishing the old ways or desiring a new era, with more excitement and a faster paced game. The rules do eliminate what has made baseball baseball the past hundreds of years, but it does usher in a new age, something that has built baseball into a more passionate game than the past.