First-year Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams talked to reporters last season about the conversations he and other major league managers were having with umpires while they were stalling and waiting for their replay officials to look into whether or not they should challenge a play and ask for a review. Williams and others, would walk onto the field, position themselves so they could face the umpire and look back to the dugout and wait for word on whether or not it was worth a second look.
"We talk about the weather," Williams joked. "We talk about, 'Hey, how is the family? How was your winter? Boy, my ankle really hurts, we played fungo golf today with the coaching staff and I'm sore.' Stuff like that and the [Bench Coach] Randy [Knorr] gives me the thumbs up or thumbs down and I say, 'Okay, have a nice evening,' and come back. That's about it."
The practice, Williams explained, was within the rules, though he discussed the possibility that it was something that might change. He did say, however, that he didn't consider it a flaw in the new rules for replays which were implemented last season.
"That's within the rules now," Williams said. "We can go out there and ask them to please take another look. They can deny, depending on what the play is, but they can deny and say, 'No, we got it right on the field,' and I or any other manager can say, 'Well, okay, well then we're going to challenge that.' Depending on the situation, depending on the play, state of game, whether you've used it before or not. All of those things come into play. But a flaw? No, I don't see a flaw in it. I think that it's available to all of us to use if we want to use it and to not if we don't."
"For the most part, the umpires have been encouraging of us to come out there and talk about it. They've been encouraging among themselves to take a second look, because ultimately they want to get it right. But I don't think it's a flaw necessarily."
When MLB and the MLBPA announced a number of "additions to the pace of game" program this morning, effective for the 2015 season, that practice was one of the things that was addressed, along with new guidelines that require a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter's box throughout his time at bat, and monitor the time between innings and after commercial breaks on new clocks to be installed in each park.
Check out all the rule changes below in the series of tweets MLB PR sent out this morning:
MLB & MLBPA announce additions to the pace of game program, effective this season. Details: pic.twitter.com/qr0KBcPLA9— MLB Public Relations (@MLB_PR) February 20, 2015
Here is the new batter’s box rule, which was in place in Minor League Baseball in 2014: pic.twitter.com/UR1j6sph5S— MLB Public Relations (@MLB_PR) February 20, 2015
In addition, a series of modifications to the instant replay system: pic.twitter.com/P4eIs5pXo2— MLB Public Relations (@MLB_PR) February 20, 2015
Will the changes for batters affect Bryce Harper's glove fixing, bat tapping, between-pitch activities?
What about Denard Span's "Wait, wait," hand gesture and pre-pitch bat-twirling?
How about Jayson Werth's deliberate walks to the plate when he wants to slow things down?
Doug Fister will continue to work fast regardless of any rules or rule changes, just try to keep up with him.
Any thoughts on the new changes, modifications and additions to the rules?