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NCAA Baseball Rule Changes (Base coaches, strap on your helmets)

The NCAA Baseball Rules committee has done some tinkering to the rule book, and although these changes are not official yet, (The committee's actions must be considered by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel before final implementation) it's worth a look. The following comes from the official NCAA release:

Ultimately, the committee again decided to reinforce several rules in place to address the pace of play. In particular, enforcing time limits (a pitch must be delivered within 20 seconds with no runners on base), the batter's box rule (the batter must generally keep one foot in the box during an at-bat), handling of conferences (defensive and offensive) and speeding the time between innings and during pitching changes were areas the committee identified as areas of possible improvement.

Speeding up the game? I can live with that. But enforcing a NBA-esque pitch clock? I'm not for that. Every pitcher has their unique delivery, their unique pick-off moves, and their superstitions. Yes, some guys are fast to the plate, and yes, some guys are slow to the plate, but that's baseball. 

It seems like the batter's box rule has always been there, but is hardly ever enforced. The way I see it, the batter has to step out somehow to receive the signs, so that's going to take time anyway. Those extra five steps to walk out of the box and the five steps to get back in might add five minutes if every batter is doing it. Is it really that big of a deal?

If we're going to enforce any rules, I say we need to make the coaches run to the pitcher's mound during visitations. If they don't make it to the hill in ten seconds, they lose a visit. That would be awesome, but it's all about strategy, and it's all about giving that pitcher in the bullpen a little bit longer to warm up.

Along the lines of sportsmanship, the committee also made a point of emphasis for umpires and coaches to be aware of the consequences of some team celebrations, particularly during a live ball. In some cases, players from the dugout have entered the field to support a teammate - which the committee does not necessarily view as a bad practice. However, when the ball is live, it can create a potential interference or obstruction scenario. Additionally, when a home run is hit, particularly at a critical point in the game, celebrations can create an intimidating and potentially volatile situation.

Yeah, yeah, yeah..... players will celebrate no matter what. What fun would baseball be if you couldn't do that.

In the area of safety, the committee approved a proposal to protect base coaches, who often are not focused on the batter - particularly with runners on base. This season, all base coaches are required to wear a helmet when coaching the bases. This rule is in line with the requirement put in place last season by Major League Baseball.

Although it's not traditional, this might be a good thing. The chances of being hit in the head while coaching a base might be as rare as winning the lottery, but you never know when it's going to happen. But this is the kind of thing that's going to save one person's life every few years.

The committee also believes that, in some cases, fields are not being lined properly before play begins. In particular, the batter's box is occasionally too close to home plate and the coaching box is too close to the foul line or home plate. The committee plans to outline the proper procedures for conferences and institutions to follow when lining fields to ensure proper compliance. Additionally, the committee is asking umpires to pay closer attention to field markings before starting play

From my experience, the batter's box is not visible after the first inning, and coaches never stand in the boxes. So what's the big deal?

Your thoughts are more than welcome.

--JB--