There have been three recent rules changes to the baseball rule book that Seattle Mariners fans should familiarize themselves with. The first of these rules makes a lot of sense considering that the Mariners have been building their training complex in the Dominican Republic and that a lot of teams have players for whom English is not a first language. This rule allows teams to have an interpreter approach the mound when pitcher conferences are necessary. What this means is that foreign-born pitchers will be better able to understand what is going on when a coach approaches the mound to talk about game strategy. This is definitely a good thing, considering the increasing globalization of Major League Baseball’s prospecting efforts.
The second rule change to familiarize yourself with is the ability, during games, to have seven coaches in uniform in the dugout. This might not seem like a big deal, however, many teams recently have added second batting coaches. By having the seventh coach rule, teams can have both of the batting coaches available to players during the game. This adds flexibility, honors those who work hard getting the team ready to play, and builds morale for all of the members of the coaching teams.
The final rule change has to do with what constitutes a balk: an illegal motion or action that generally leads to a dead ball and each player gaining one base. It’s not too big a deal, but it could lead to a team getting an advantage because the opposing team makes a dumb fake-out mistake. An example of something that constitutes a balk is a pitcher faking a pitch in order to make the batter off balance for the real pitch. The action added to the list of balk-worthy motions is the fake throw to third then throw to first to get a player out.
Whether or not these rule changes will actually affect game play is one question. I’m not sure they will. To me, the fake throw to third then throw to first move just wastes time when you could get guys out by being direct (double play anyone?). Maybe I’m wrong. I think the most helpful is the interpreter rule. What do you think?