- Managers must challenge replays from dugout.
- Batters must keep one foot in box unless an established exception occurs.
- Play to resume promptly once broadcast returns from commercial break.
If properly enforced, these changes might actually have the desired effect of speeding up the game without measurably altering it otherwise. The first one change probably won't do much—I can imagine a worst case scenario where managers amble out to argue with an umpire, before returning to the dugout to challenge—but the second two could.
Stepping out of the batter's box to adjust, take a practice swing, get the signs again, daydream, or whatever, has become ubiquitous, taken to the extreme by Nomar Garciaparra with his batting tics:
Sharply reducing the amount of times players can leave the batter's box will only save a few seconds each time they don't leave, but across nearly 300 pitches a game, that's a large time savings.
Similarly, there are at minimum 16 commercial breaks per game, plus however many come from pitching changes. It remains to be seen exactly what "promptly" means, but broadcasts often return from commercial and have 15 or 30 seconds to show statistics or a replay from the previous inning. Shortening this dead time each of the 20-plus times it occurs a game will also add up.
The changes MLB will be implementing should also satisfy baseball purists, as they're some of the least impactful among those proposed. Pitch clocks won't be erected in dugouts, and pitchers won't be able to intentionally walk a batter without throwing four pitches. Baseball will basically remain the same. Everybody is going to have to add a little bit of a spring to their step, but that's a small price to pay if it means ridding the world of four-hour long Yankees-Red Sox snoozers.
Photo via Nick Laham/Getty