In recent years Major League Baseball and commissioner Rob Manfred have attempted to improve the pace of play by instilling rules such as a clock between innings for pitchers warming up, and batters have been instructed to keep one foot in the box between pitches, among others changes.
Conversely, the implementation of replay has invariably slowed games down, though in theory the accuracy of calls has improved. Manfred recently sent a proposal to the players’ and umpires’ unions that would accelerate the process for replay review.
In another attempt to improve the pace of play, consideration was given to forgoing the need to throw four pitches for an intentional walk. MLB and the players’ union arrived at a decision on the matter rather quickly, and agreed to approve a change to a dugout signal for intentional walks, via ESPN:
As part of its initiative to improve the pace of game play, Major League Baseball has approved a change to the intentional walk rule, going from the traditional four-pitch walk to a dugout signal, it was announced Wednesday.
There were just 932 intentional walks last season, which amounts to about one every 2.6 games. Thus, the change figures to have a minimal impact in terms of shortening the length of games. However, the willingness from both sides to agree on an adjustment may bode well for potential changes in the future.
The next of which may involve shrinking the strike zone and a pitch clock, though both were met by resistance from the players’ union. While MLB must receive the union’s approval for any changes to go into effect this season, the league can use unilateral power to instill changes for the 2018 season.