The NCAA Baseball Rules Committee, during its meetings this week, recommended modifications to the 20-second action clock with runners on base.
All rule proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss baseball proposals Aug. 11. The action clock proposal would take effect in the 2022-23 academic year.
Under the proposal, with runners on base, a pitcher would be required to start the motion of throwing a pitch or making a pickoff throw to avoid violating the action clock.
Pitchers would be allowed one step-off or fake throw to a base per batter to reset the clock.
HOW IT HAPPENED: How Ole Miss won the 2022 College World Series
If a defensive player requests and is granted a timeout by an umpire, it would be treated the same as a step-off by the pitcher to reset the clock. Again, this would be allowed only once per batter.
If the 20-second action clock expires without a pitch or pickoff throw being made, a ball would be added to the count.
Currently, pitchers receive a warning for the first violation of the 20-second clock, and a ball is added to the count for any subsequent violations. Also, pitchers can make an unlimited number of step-offs or fake throws to reset the clock.
If the offense violates the 20-second clock, a strike still would be added to the count.
"With this being a new rule the last couple of years, there have been some growing pains with it," said Doug Aiken, committee chair and associate athletics director at Chapman. "We had to see these things play out in real time. The committee wanted to take out the fake or feinting of throws because it has had a negative impact on the game."
The committee also recommended that all action clocks be visible on the field by Jan. 1, 2024, for all Division I games, and Jan. 1, 2025, for all Division II and III games.
To effectively and consistently enforce rules aimed at addressing the concern, committee members think a visible clock is necessary to address pace-of-play issues.
The committee proposed expanding umpires' use of video replay review. If approved, umpires could initiate video reviews to see whether malicious contact or misconduct occurred. Umpires would also be able to initiate reviews regarding catcher's interference.
Committee members recommended a minimum 3-foot fence or protective netting on the field side of dugouts. If approved, the fence/netting would be required in Division I as of Jan. 1, 2024, and in Divisions II and III by Jan. 1, 2025.
Additionally, the committee recommended padding be placed on all hard surfaces (backstops, sideline and home run fences) with which a player could collide during play.
Other rule recommendations
- Starting with the 2023 season, celebratory props would not be allowed outside the dugout.
- All coaching appeals of an umpire's decision or interpretation of the rules for a play on the bases are to be made at the middle point of the team's respective foul line. A coach shall not enter the dirt circle for decisions or interpretations of the rules for plays at home plate or for lineup changes.
- Either by conference rule or mutual consent between the two teams, a game could be completed with one umpire.
- Either by conference rule or mutual consent between the two teams, all extra innings (10th inning of a nine-inning game or eighth inning of a seven-inning doubleheader game) would start with a runner on second base.