Major League Baseball and the players’ association jointly announced a set of anticipated rules changes Thursday, officially killing the “manual” intentional walk, imposing a two-minute limit for replay reviews and even ruling that teams cannot use chalk or markers to better position its fielders.
MLB said the “no-pitch intentional walk” will now be awarded after “the defensive team’s manager signal(s) a decision to the home plate umpire to intentionally walk the batter. Following the signal of the manager’s intention, the umpire will immediately award first base to the batter.”
As first reported by USA TODAY Sports, managers also must decide within 30 seconds whether or not to issue a replay challenge – and replay umpires at the New York city command center must render a decision within two minutes. MLB indicates that the rule will “allow various exceptions” to the two minute rule. And replays initiated by the crew chief after a club has exhausted its challenges won’t begin until the eighth inning, a switch from the previous seven-inning plateau.
But perhaps the most unusual new rule prohibits “the use of any markers on the field that could create a tangible reference system for fielders.”
MLB & the MLBPA today jointly announced a series of modifications that have been approved and will be in place in the 2017 regular season: pic.twitter.com/IjVboUSCGd— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) March 2, 2017
That concept came to light in May, when Mets general manager Sandy Alderson denied the Los Angeles Dodgers’ request to paint marks on the Citi Field outfield grass during a series in New York.
The Dodgers acknowledged the use of lasers and GPS devices to optimize the position of their fielders, using marks in left, right and center field to serve as a central point for their fielders. Manager Dave Roberts said they granted other teams’ requests to paint similar marks at Dodger Stadium, but the Mets balked.
“You just don't go paint somebody else's field,” manager Terry Collins said at the time.
Now, it's officially outlawed.