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MLB & MLBPA announce “modifications”, one related to Carter Capps’ delivery

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Replay tweaks, third base coach box rules, field markings, CARTER CAPPS DON’T RE-PLANT THAT FOOT!!!

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins
Drag that foot, DON’T PLANT IT!!!!
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Today the MLB Communications office announced a set of “modifications” to be effective for the 2017 season. Before digging in to them one-by-one, here’s the release:

  • The no-pitch intentional walk has been discussed at great length. It’s being done under the auspice of speeding up the game, but it really is a trivial contributor to average game times since it doesn’t happen all that often. Still, there are the odd occurrences of something going wrong when a pitcher has to lob four balls to the catcher, and that will not happen under this rule. I’m not a fan, but it’s not a big deal.
  • The manager only has 30 seconds to decide to request a review. This delaying game to wait and see what the team’s video booth is being nipped in the bud. I think there are better ways they could address this, but I’m glad that they’re trying to keep things moving.
  • The umpire crew can now initiate challenges without manager request from the 8th inning on, when before it was the 7th inning. I’d like to know what the impetus is for this change. Personally, I’d like to see the umpire crew have the authority to initiate a review regardless of the game situation.
  • Replay officials will have a loosely-defined two-minute clock to make a decision, with what sounds like ample exceptions. They’re trying to rein in the five-minute review processes, which is good, but they can still do it better.
  • I’ve never heard of a team using markers to assist with defensive positioning, but now it’s prohibited. Maybe there was talk of painting markers or something to that effect into the field for this. I wonder if the grounds crew could mow a grid pattern. Andy Green is likely light years ahead of the league on this anyway, so whatevs.

THE CARTER CAPPS RULE!

  • “...a pitcher may not make a second step toward home plate or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch.” We all saw the ruckus that spread all over when Carter Capps’ first workout video was released. He was clearly re-planting his pivot foot during his delivery, which is a move that he had previously worked out of his method. It’s been stated that he will be dragging his foot as had been ruled legal in 2015, the same delivery that made him one of the most unhittable pitchers we’ve ever seen, and now this official release makes that interpretation clear. If he re-soles his foot and makes any perceived motion that could be viewed as a “set”, it’s an illegal pitch or a balk (depending on whether there is a runner on base). If he simply drags his foot, even though he’s leaping toward the plate, it’s a legal pitch. Hopefully this will clarify the league’s position and squash the complaints.

To be perfectly clear, this delivery is considered legal:

This delivery is NOT LEGAL:

Carter Capps knows this. The Padres coaching staff knows this. Major League Baseball and the MLB umpires know this. I’m sure everyone will be watching it closely, but he knows what he needs to do to execute a legal pitch, and I trust that he will do so.

  • The third base coach must be in the coach’s box when the pitch is delivered. This makes me chuckle, since I’ve seen Tim Flannery get halfway down the line as the pitch is being delivered. This is likely a safety move, since the base coaches are in a vulnerable position and not always looking at the hitter when the ball crosses the plate.

Now we can all get back to spring training exhibition games and ping-pong tournaments and everyone being “in the best shape of his life” while we roll on toward Opening Day. There’s a ballgame at noon today, so play ball!