Greetings to all my wonderful ball boys and girls! I am so happy that you are here. It is time for some baseball, and it's time to get the logistical pieces out of the way. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be peppering in some pieces on rule changes, manager changes, and significant front office changes, and then jumping feet-first into MLB/MiLB content for you this year. Make sure to join me on IG, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok simply by clicking here.
One announcement, Ball Boy Talk is coming back! The last time we produced an episode of Ball Boy Talk was in 2021; we missed all of 2022. However, we will come back with a vengeance in 2023 as my brother Aaron and I revamp the platform and create an unhinged sports talk show.
Make sure to check out Ball Boy Talk, as we dropped two episodes over the weekend:
Unprecedented changes are coming in 2023 for the MLB, and I favor every one of them. The first is more of a logistical one that has fans everywhere excited. All teams will play each other going forward. For example, fewer divisional games, and more fans are getting to see Mike Trout and Ohtani in Pittsburgh. Mariner fans all over the central can see their team, and fans can go a little further to see their favorite team at their local parks; how exciting.
Let's jump into the second one with some confused, enlarged bases; the bases will be slightly larger going into 2023, with the desire to help prevent injuries around the first base, increase stolen base attempts, and prevent outs awarded on replay after a runner overshoots 2nd. If you were a Mariners fan, you remember the injury to Ty France that happened on a play at first and took him out for a couple of weeks amid an all-star season. If you are a fan of MiLB, you know that the larger bases did indeed have the kids running more frequently at the lower levels. The bases for all my math people will be 18 square inches v the 15 square inches previous, creating a 4.5-inch reduction in the distance between first and second and second and third. Also, for those wondering the numbers for the minors, in 2019, there were 2.23 steal attempts per game with a 68% success rate, which jumped to 2.83 with a 77% success rate; catchers get ready.
The next banning the shift. Thank GOODNESS. You probably think, Jey, aren't you a big analytics guy? Yes, however, I grew up before the shift in baseball was as big as it has been in recent years, and I remember seeing just great plays made by true athletes in the middle infield. I am excited about more highlight plays, jump throws, errors, and the more traditional element returning to the baseball game. Teams will be required to have two players on each side second, which will likely also increase offensive production and the value of those fantastic athletes like Lindor, Baez, and JP Crawford, among others, who play an incredible middle infield game.
Lastly, the pitch clock. Now, my MiLB readers know how awesome the pitch clock was in the minors(26-minute reduction in average game time); however, it will be a bit different in the MLB. There will be a 30-second timer between batters. Between pitches, a 15-second with empty bases and 20-second with runners on base. The violations, for a pitcher, are charged an automatic ball, and for a hitter, they are charged an automatic strike. Batters must be in the box by the 8-second mark or charged with an automatic strike. With runners on base, the timer resets with a pickoff or step-off. Pitchers are limited to TWO disengagements per plate appearance. If a third pickoff is made, the runner gets an automatic advance. Mound visits, injuries, and team timeouts do NOT count as disengagement. A team has five mound visits a game; if all are used before the 9th, these count as disengagement. Umpires may also allow for extra time as needed.
Now, I thought that would be the end of the rule changes for the 2023 season, but guess what? I was wrong; I was so very wrong. See, I wrote this originally on Saturday, 2/11, and then yesterday, 2/12, more rule changes were agreed on between the MLB and MLBPA. Both of the following were agreed on unanimously by both sides. The two sides agreed to permanently implement the "ghost runner" on 2nd in extra innings in the future in all games. Which, I get why they are doing it, less chance of an 18-inning game or 6-hour contest, a taxed bullpen, and just a mess to sort out for a couple of weeks pitching-wise. It makes sense, I don't love it, but we will all get over it.
Now, lastly, the rules on position players pitching have changed. There was a dramatic increase between 2017 and 2022, where the number of position players pitching appearances from 32 to 132. Now position players will be allowed to pitch in extra innings, or the ninth inning, for a leading team that is up by ten or more or anytime the trailing team is down by eight or more.
Looking back at 2022
If we look back briefly at the rule changes that went into play last season and beyond, we find the Universal DH remarkable first, and we all love it. I know a lot of National League die-hards say it's not the same; however, that's true; it's much better for the game and players. For example, Bryce Harper could still play daily, despite the UCL, and help his team get to a world series.
Next, we saw the expanded playoffs that gave the one seed a bye week while allotting one new wild-card spot. This rule greatly benefited the Seattle Mariners, who broke North America's longest professional sports drought between the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. At the same time, the Phillies also broke the second-longest MLB playoff drought and were able to sneak into the playoffs.
The elimination of the "Manfred" aka Covid Rules of seven-inning doubleheaders, the ghost runner on second in extra innings, also that Canada lifted its restrictions. It allowed the Blue Jays to return home.
The Jacob Nottingham rule says that Seattle and Milwaukee can only shuffle the C/1B back and forth a few times during the season. Joking; the rule says that if a player is claimed and then released by the Mariners once during a season, they cannot reclaim him on waivers unless every other team passes.
A piggyback rule here is that players can only be optioned five times during the season, and if they are to be optioned a 6th time, they much we DFA'd and made available via waivers/trade/release.
Let's talk about the rookies and young guns for a moment. Clubs can now be rewarded with draft pick compensation if a rookie they placed on the opening day roster finishes top-3 in Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Cy Young voting. In addition, the top 2 finishers will get a full year of service time regardless of when they debuted.
The often-forgotten rule of the draft lottery comes with the 2023 draft, which allows the 18 teams that did not make the playoffs to get one of the "lottery" picks, a top-6 pick.
Along with the draft being moved during the all-star week and approaching the deadline, the MLB trade deadline has a floating date that can be set between July 28th and August 3rd, according to the commissioner.
While talking about the All-star game, if the game ends in a tie, it would go into a sudden-death home run derby to decide the winner.
Now for a few that feel in the cracks, English/Spanish second language courses. One player can request it before April 15th, and the team will provide the courses to help with better communication. Morning baseball, the NBCUniversal Peacock had the rights to 18 games, all on Sundays, to provide Sunday morning baseball starting as early as 11:30 am EST.
That's it! Are you ready for the changes and a fantastic 2023 here with Ball Boy Blog, Ball Boy talk, and of course, Ball Boy Media? Make sure to follow all the socials and leave a comment on what you think of any of the rule changes.