It’s been a rather precarious day in the discussion between the Major League Baseball Commissioner’s office and the Player’s Union. First, Union chief Tony Clark–a former Detroit Tiger, said that rule changes were not likely to be approved for the 2017 season, including the intentional walk rule. Then Rob Manfred fired back, criticizing–to an extent, the lack of cooperation from the Union.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, “Clark assured reporters Sunday afternoon in a 90-minute press conference that the only potential rule change this year would be the possible altering of the intentional walk…That’s it.” MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, balked at the Union’s comments saying they were “not cooperating” and threatening unilateral decisions for 2018 if the Union failed to cooperate.
MLB has approved a change to the intentional walk rule, going from the traditional 4-pitch walk to a dugout signal. https://t.co/Uj2cMAIN2g
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 22, 2017
Well, according to Sports Illustrated, who was quoting ESPN’s Howard Bryant, the intentional walk rule has been changed. “Major League Baseball has approved a dugout signal for an intentional walk, which will take effect for the 2017 season…”
This means that the rule changes we presented to you a few weeks ago, may be more of a reality than mere speculation. Teams no longer will have to throw four balls wide of the strike zone to issue a free pass, they will simply have to make a simple signal from the dugout to walk someone they do not want to pitch to.
How will this effect the game? Only time will tell. However, it is a slippery slope taking a fundamental part of the game out of the actual play of the game.