MLB announced some new rules for the 2016 season, including a clarification for the take out slide at second base. Although the new rules seem to be more of a clarification, or addendum to current rules than anything else. Hopefully, the recent attention will include instruction of the umpires to enforce the rules a little more diligently.
The new rule — Rule 6.01(j) — is designed to cut down on unnecessary contact during an attempt to turn a double play, and it will be reviewable by instant replay. Players are still permitted to make contact with the fielder on a straight slide into second base, but they are not allowed to deviate their path or make a “roll block.”
The umpire is now required to judge whether the incoming runner at second base is engaging in a “bona fide” slide, or whether that player is guilty of obstruction. A “bona fide” slide is defined as one in which the player begins his slide before reaching the base and is able to remain on the base after completion.
Players are not allowed to change their pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder, and if the umpire decides the player is in violation, both the baserunner and the batter will be called out.
Additionally, the neighborhood play will be reviewable by instant replay, which could spell an end for the tactic and could actually cause the pace of the game to slow down as more and more plays at second will be reviewed.
Speaking of pace of play, there are some tweaks to those rules as well.
There are also two new changes in the league’s pace-of-game rules. Managers and pitching coaches will have timed 30-second visits to the mound, and the break time between innings has been reduced.
Break times between innings will take two minutes and five seconds for locally televised games and two minutes, 25 seconds for nationally televised games — down from two minutes, 25 seconds and two minutes, 45 seconds, respectively, last season.