No rule changes likely till spring

The Bradenton Herald - - Sports - BY RON­ALD BLUM

Ma­jor League Base­ball and its play­ers’ union likely will not de­cide un­til the eve of spring train­ing whether to change rules in an ef­fort to in­crease ac­tion on the field next year.

Deputy Com­mis­sioner Dan Halem said Thurs­day as the an­nual gen­eral man­agers’ meet­ings ended that there was no con­sen­sus for change yet. More dis­cus­sions will take place when own­ers gather next week in At­lanta, the union’s ex­ec­u­tive board con­venes in late Novem­ber and ma­jor league ex­ec­u­tives go to Las Ve­gas for the win­ter meet­ings in mid-De­cem­ber.

Top­ics be­ing dis­cussed in­clude the in­creased use of de­fen­sive shifts, the de­crease in in­nings thrown by start­ing pitch­ers and tech­nol­ogy that aids sign steal­ing. A pos­si­ble 20-sec­ond pitch clock and al­ter­ations to rules for waivers, trade dead­lines and dis­abled lists also are be­ing talked about by a tra­di­tion-bound sport re­sis­tant to change.

“We’re an en­ter­tain­ment prod­uct. Cer­tainly, we want to play the game in a way that’s com­pelling for our au­di­ence, in­clud­ing the younger au­di­ence,” Halem said.

“We’re con­stantly look­ing at the way the game is chang­ing or­gan­i­cally and try­ing to bal­ance the com­pet­i­tive is­sues with our clubs and our GMs do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to win ver­sus what those de­ci­sions re­sult in in terms of the prod­uct on the field. And it’s not an easy bal­ance, but we work very hard at it.”

Agree­ment with the union is nec­es­sary for play­ing rules changes, but man­age­ment has the right to uni­lat­er­ally im­ple­ment a new play­ing rule with one year ad­vance no­tice.

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