Virtually unnoticed (using the time-honored practice of sending out a press release late on Friday afternoon), the MLB Rules Committee has made some significant changes in baseball rules and how games are scored.
- Any tie game halted due to weather, or any other reason, such as a power failure, after it's official (five innings, or four and a half if the home team is ahead), will automatically become a suspended game. This will eliminate things like the Typhoon Game, played at Wrigley Field in 2003 (although that one never made it to five innings, given the new rule, they'd probably have tried to get one more inning in), and likely virtually eliminate tie games. In practice, it may create situations where, if there's really bad weather in the fourth inning of a game that some team is trailing badly, they'd start stalling in hopes that the umpires will call it before it's official.
- Any pitcher caught defacing the ball faces immediate ejection and an automatic ten-game suspension.
- Players can no longer step into dugouts to catch foul balls -- they can reach in, but not step in.
- The 20-second time limit for a pitcher to pitch with no one on base has been reduced to 12 seconds. This is almost never enforced; I assume it's being done to speed up the game, but without an actual clock (which I am NOT in favor of), I can't see how this will ever be put into practice.
- Pitchers can wear multicolored gloves (except gray or white) unless they are, in the umpire's judgment, "distracting". I can see Tony LaRussa bitching already.
FWIW, the committee making these changes is comprised of: