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MLB Column: New season, new rule changes for Major League Baseball

By Molly Burkhardt
On April 8, 2014

This first week of the MLB regular season gave fans a chance to see their favorite players, new picks, reformed teams and all the new rules. With the spring season finally here, all the new rules and regulations created in the off-season are making their debut. The new regulations include a rule intended to prevent home plate collisions.
Catchers must provide the runner with a clear path to home plate, creating no obstructions on the baseline. Some catchers, including the Red Sox's David Ross, are optimistic about the new rule. Catchers AJ Pierzynski (Boston) and Evan Gatis (Atlanta) are disappointed with the new limitation. Pierzynski "knew what he was getting himself into" when he signed up for the major league.
Some players are concerned the new rule has too many gray areas. In order to follow the rule, players must now throw the ball a certain way to avoid putting the catcher in the runner's path. This limits how and where the player can now throw the ball. Though this rule will take some getting used to, players, coaches and fans seem more concerned with the revised instant replay procedure.
The changes made to the instant replay rule include allowing more plays such as foul and fair balls as well as home run interference to be reviewed. Coaches are now only allowed one challenge in the first six innings and two after the seventh until the end of the game. Managers will now have to wait for their coordinators to decide if they want to use a challenge, then they have to talk to the umpire, who contacts the instant replay crew, waiting for them to reply and then completing the challenge. Instant replays will be reviewed at the MLB headquarters in New York City by a group of specialists. Many argue this will add time to the already lengthy game of baseball.
In the past, attempts have been made to shorten gameplay, as games can take up to three hours. Though this extensive review process may add time to each challenge, it also limits how many challenges there can be in each game. Unfortunately, this means there will be fewer coaches running out to scream at umpires, kicking dirt and making big fusses. As baseball tends to not be very physical, this new rule almost eliminates any hockey-like aggressiveness.
Despite the rule change, there will undoubtedly still be those few coaches who can't contain their anger. Players have mixed opinions on the instant replay review. Marlins manager Mark Redmond told ESPN, "It'll be an adjustment, but hopefully in the end it's going to be something that works great for the game".
Like any rule change, it will take some getting used to, not just on the players part but also wthe fans. While fans at the ballpark get to enjoy the game with no commercials, they will have to wait like TV viewers as the crew in New York replays the video. Spring training game's tried out the new process, with some challenges clocking in at around two minutes. Though the new rule may add some time to the game, Jon
Jay of the Cardinals made a good point in saying, "the bottom line is you want to make the right call, if this is going to help make the right call I'm all for it." The only way to tell if it's efficient is to test it out this season. 

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