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MLB announces rule changes for 2017

MLB has officially announced rule changes for 2017, including the “automatic” intentional walk

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images

MLB has officially announced rule changes for the 2017 season, highlighted by the ability of teams to automatically issue an intentional walk without actually throwing four balls wide. This is part of the pace-of-play initiative, and isn’t a huge deal, but makes a certain amount of sense, I think.

Also of note are some tweaks to the replay system. Previously, beginning at the start of the seventh inning, crew chiefs could (but didn’t have to) invoke replay on non-home-run calls even if the team that is asking for the replay didn’t have a challenge. That will now be moved to the start of the eighth inning. Managers had previously been challenging plays where their chances of success were remote in the bottom of the sixth inning — they will now presumably start doing that in the bottom of the seventh.

Managers will also now have 30 seconds to decide whether or not to challenge a play, and umpires have a two-minute “guideline” for a limit as to how long they have to review.

Finally, MLB has clarified an interpretation of a certain rule that provides that you can’t take a second step towards home plate in your delivery. That seems to address the complaints about Carter Capps, whose unique delivery is causing complaints.