New Experimental Rules in Softball? Yes, Please – From the Bird’s Nest
I read the story last night and applauded.
No. Really. I did.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Committee has approved experimental rules for 2017 in select conferences designed to speed up the game.
I've been pretty outspoken about this for a couple of years, now. Between conference after conference, pitchers afraid to throw strikes and celebrations after every out, the game, which was one of the most exciting to watch because of the fast pace, has nearly become unwatchable, at least for me.
And, the NCAA now agrees.
The new rules are for conference games in the "autonomy" (read: Power 5) conferences, but any league can, before February 6, submit in writing plans to implement the rules as well.
Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson confirmed the Sun Belt will use the experimental rules this season,
After the first time I wrote about this, Cajuns' softball coach Michael Lotief said he agreed, but as long as the rules were in place, he would try to use them to his advantage. Which is what he's supposed to do. We had no problem with each other's views.
But now, there are others who have seen what I've seen. And, they're willing to do something about it.
Right now, a team can have up to fourteen conferences per game (one offensive and one defensive conference per inning. If each team takes advantage of that rule, that's 28 conferences in a game. That will be reduced to six combined for each team, for a total of twelve. More would be added if the game goes extra innings. If a player or coach tries to have a conference after the limit is reached, there is an immediate ejection.
No more huddling after every out. Teams will still be allowed to throw the ball around the infield after an out, but then the ball goes right back to the pitcher. No longer will the infield and catcher be allowed to congregate after every out to slap hands, high five, give hugs, or synchronize hand gestures. Get it back to the pitcher and let's play. A warning is issued the first time it happens. After that, a ball is awarded to the next batter.
And, the time between innings will be reduced to ninety seconds. The umpires will use a stopwatch and time starts when the last defensive player leaves fair territory. After 90 seconds, the defensive team must be in position (including the pitcher being ready to pitch) and the batter must be in the box. A delay by the defense is a ball to the next batter. A delay by the offense is an automatic strike.
None of these rules are unreasonable. In fact, they are welcomed. When seven inning softball games are lasting longer than nine inning baseball games (and that happened from time to time last year), there's something wrong. And the NCAA believes it's time to fix it.
So do I.
The Sun Belt is one of the better leagues in the country. No reason why they should wait to implement the experimental rules as well. It will only help grow the game.