Earlier this week, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred took a page out of Adam Silver's book and said he is pursuing new ways to speed up the game of baseball. While he didn’t expect any big changes to be implemented immediately – he expressed disappointment in the MLB Players Association resisting "modest rule changes" – it turns out there will be a new rule in the upcoming season after all.
On Tuesday, it was announced teams will no longer have to throw four pitches to intentionally walk batters. Instead, they will be able to signal to the umpire from the dugout to automatically send a batter to first base.
"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark told The Associated Press about the rule change. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."
The only problem is teams aren't walking batters as often as they used to. There were only 932 intentional walks last season, according to ESPN, which worked out to be one every 2.6 games. Then again, when you put it into context –one minute per walk is 932 minutes (or 15.5 hours) of wasted time on the season – maybe it is worth it in the end.
Plus, Texas A&M defeated Stephen F. Austin on a wild pitch during an intentional walk on the same day the rule was announced. It’s almost like the baseball gods are trying to tell us something.