Rule 3.01 is not new. It’s been on the books for long enough that it specifically bans players from using licorice to discolor the ball, among other doctoring techniques. There are more specific rules regarding pitchers, Rules 6.02(c)(2) through (6).


Logically, though, Rule 5.07(c) should also be subject to immediate enforcement and a crackdown. That’s the one that reads, “When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call ‘Ball.’”

There don’t even need to be pitch clocks, as are currently being used in Low-A West on an experimental basis — although you can expect to see those in the majors in the next couple of years. Umpires can simply count a dozen Mississippis and enforce another rule that’s been on the books for years.


Rule 6.02(a)(8) has even more leeway for umpires to act, as a balk can be called any time a “pitcher unnecessarily delays the game,” provided that there is a warning first. Maybe, during the “weaning off” period, instead of searching pitchers for substances, umpires could be instructed to warn pitchers and call balks for unnecessary delays caused by pitchers reaching up to get a glob of something off the brim of their hat.

It’s silly not to want baseball to be played by the rules, and while there’s long been a culture of bending, if not outright breaking the rules, that doesn’t make it wrong when MLB decides enough is enough, even if the handling of it is ham-fisted. If only MLB would be so decisive in addressing its myriad other issues.