College Baseball Rules Changes are a Mixed Bag – From the Bird’s Nest
This week the NCAA Rules Committee passed several rules changes for College Baseball effective in the 2019 season.
For many, change isn't easy. And, you can put me in that number. But, overall, the changes are something I can live with, and I think fans will be able to as well.
The one getting the most criticism is, like the major leagues, pitchers will no longer have to throw four pitches for an intentional walk. Now, the coach will simply signal to put the batter on base and he'll jog right on down. I personally don't like it. While it's rather simple for a big leaguer to throw four wide ones, those who have attended college baseball games have at some time seen the pitcher throw a wild pitch when trying to issue an intentional walk. I'm not sure the 30 seconds you save is worth the chance.
The 53 (or 31) play has been outlawed. That's the play in which the pitcher fakes a throw to third base then wheels and throws to first. It will now be a balk. And, few will have a problem with that. It almost never works, anyway.
A change most will approve of has to do with trying to get hit by a pitch. It was a point of emphasis last year. We saw, many times, an umpire call a player back to the batters box if, in the umpire's judgment, a player was trying to get hit, or did not try to get out of the way. Now, if it happens, the batter will be charged with a strike. And, a coach is not allowed to argue the call once it is made. That'll go over big on a 2-2 count.
Teams will now be allowed only six defensive conferences per game. This is obviously intended to speed up play.
Also, the offense will no longer be allowed to have a summit conference when the opposing coach makes a mound visit. The third base coach, the batter, the on deck batter and every base runner was involved. Now, players must stay on their base. This is a good thing.
A defensive player cannot block a base without the ball. This previously only applied to home plate. Now it's all bases.
For those leagues that have replay, coaches will now have two challenges per game, a move that's being widely applauded. It's another step toward the expansion of replay. Sooner of later you'll see more and more conferences use replay.
The proposal for a 20 second pitch clock was defeated. Conferences do have the option of using it, but it is not mandatory.
And, the proposed rule which called for ejection and suspension of any player who leaves the dugout, bullpen or defensive position was defeated as well. This was a proposed rule that simply didn't belong.
Look for these new rules when the 2019 college baseball season begins.