Home Sports MLB Players Association says 2023 rule changes impact ‘the integrity of the game itself’

MLB Players Association says 2023 rule changes impact ‘the integrity of the game itself’

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MLB Players Association representatives unanimously voted against three notable rule changes to Major League Baseball during the 2023 season.

Changes such as banning defensive shifts, introducing a pitch clock and expanding the base were passed after a vote on Friday by a new joint committee made up of players, club representatives and referees.

After testing these new changes in the minor leagues and discussing the issue at several meetings, the vote has passed.

However, the MLBPA issued a statement that all players participating in the joint committee did not like the new rule.

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MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, New York on July 24, 2022
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

“Players live the game every day. Rules and regulations on the field affect their preparation, performance and ultimately the integrity of the game itself,” the Twitter statement said. “Leaders of players across the league engaged in on-field rule negotiations through the Athletic Commission and provided specific and actionable feedback on the changes proposed by the Commissioners’ Office.

“Major League Baseball is unwilling to meaningfully address the concerns raised by its players, and as a result, competition committee players unanimously oppose implementing the rules covering defensive shifts and the use of pitch timers. I voted.”

The biggest change among the three rules is the ban on defensive shifts, a long-discussed theme in baseball.

A new prototype baseball for Major League Baseball on display March 20, 2019 in Clearwater, Florida.

A new prototype baseball for Major League Baseball on display March 20, 2019 in Clearwater, Florida.
(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

The new rule requires two infielders on either side of the second base bag, and all four infielders must have both feet planted in the dirt while the pitcher is on the rubber. Infielders are also not allowed to switch sides. This means that the shortstop cannot switch to second base or any other variation.

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MLB said these restrictions “return the game to a more traditional aesthetic by managing defensive shifts, encouraging more balls to play and giving players the opportunity to showcase their athleticism.” to offset the increasing trend of alignments featuring four outfielders.

The Los Angeles Dodgers use a defensive shift during their game against the Houston Astros on May 26, 2021 at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The Los Angeles Dodgers use a defensive shift during their game against the Houston Astros on May 26, 2021 at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
(Michael Starghill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The pitch clock means that the pitcher must bring the ball to home plate within 15 seconds if there are no runners on base. When the runner or runners are on base, timing begins at his 20th second.

A pitcher is allowed to come off the rubber twice in each at-bat without penalty. If a pitcher takes his third step, it is considered a balk, “unless an out is scored on the runner.”

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The batter must be standing in the batter’s box and ready with at least 8 seconds remaining on the pitch clock. This rule is only done to speed up the game. Introduced in the minor leagues, the rule cut average game time by 26 minutes in 2022.

Tony Clark, Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, answers questions during a press conference in New York City, March 11, 2022.

Tony Clark, Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, answers questions during a press conference in New York City, March 11, 2022.
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

A final change increases the size of the base from a 15 inch square to 18 inches. This is a health move to prevent hitting the first baseman and stepping on the runner. In the minor leagues, base-related injuries decreased by 13.5% on larger bases.

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Commissioner Rob Manfred said: “These steps are designed to improve pace of play, increase action and reduce injuries, all of which have been overwhelmingly popular among fans. This is the goal we are aiming for.

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