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MLB Announcing Pace-Of-Game Changes Later Friday

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Yes. It's happening.

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Well, here we go.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports write that they have confirmed that Major League Baseball will be announcing later today four changes in procedures (not rule changes) that they hope will quicken the pace of games:

● Managers must make instant replay challenges from the dugout, rather than the field. This should eliminate the on-field delays that occurred in 2014 while managers chatted with umpires while waiting for coaches or video coordinators to recommend whether a play should be challenged.

● Hitters must keep one foot in the batter’s box between pitches, unless an established exception occurs. It’s not clear how many exceptions will exist, but during a trial run in the 2014 Arizona Fall League, those conditions included foul balls, foul tips, time being granted by the umpire, and wild pitches.

● Play will resume promptly once television broadcasts return from commercial breaks.

● Timed pitching changes.

Rosenthal elaborated on the changes in these tweets:

Probably the biggest of these changes is requiring batters to stay in the batters' box, although as noted there are a number of exceptions. Given that many hitters step out and wander around the home-plate area messing with batting gloves and such after every pitch, this should help pick up the pace of games considerably.

I'm not quite sure how a manager is supposed to signal for a replay review from the dugout. This might even wind up decreasing the number of reviews called for, since it's intended to end the practice of the "manager moonwalk" while said manager is looking for a dugout signal as to whether it's worth asking for a review. Presumably, this will be given more detail at the official announcement later today.

We've discussed the item about play resuming promptly after commercial breaks here before. It's my impression that quite often, a televised game returns from commercial and it's still 30 seconds or more before the first pitch is thrown. MLB has a system of colored cards -- you can see someone near one of the dugouts in every park showing these -- that indicate how much time remains in every commercial break. It'll be up to the umpires to make sure that pitchers and hitters are ready to go when the break ends.

Presumably, they could use the same sort of system to time pitching changes.

I think these are all good ideas. None of them changes any of the fundamental rules of play, and all of them could result in quickening the pace of games. If these changes do accomplish that goal, MLB would probably just stick there and not go any farther. Remember that the length of games per se isn't the issue here; it's the slow, dragged-out pacing of some games that MLB is trying to address.

I'm all for these changes and hope we have faster-paced games as a result.