Batter up, it’s Opening Day of Major League Baseball

by Jacob Fuller

Rob Issa, FISM News

It’s time to play ball.

Opening Day has arrived for Major League Baseball with a new set of rules designed to speed up the game and geared toward creating more excitement.

Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees host the Baltimore Orioles while Ronald Acuna and the Atlanta Braves visit the Washington Nationals in the first two games on the slate Thursday afternoon.

All 30 teams are set to open the season on the same day with three interleague matchups.


The biggest change this season is a pitch clock. Pitchers get 15 seconds to throw with nobody on base and 20 seconds with runners on. Otherwise, it’s an automatic ball. Batters must be ready within that time span or else it’s an automatic strike.

The goal is to quicken the pace of games.

“Our research showed that the game had evolved and changed in a way that fans didn’t like, and we decided it was time to intervene, to make sure we put the best form of baseball on the field,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said this week on “Good Morning America.”

“Attention span of fans, we know, is limited, but the game, historically, was played in a window, two-and-a-half (hours) to 2:45, and in a lot of ways, we think we’re restoring baseball to when it was the most popular.”


Another new rule bans shifts. Overloading one side of the infield against pull hitters had become increasingly more common in the past decade. It was routine for a hitter to ground out to an infielder playing in shallow right field. Eliminating shifts should create more hits and that’ll lead to more runs.

The Boston Red Sox found a loophole, however, because the ban doesn’t apply to outfielders. In Spring training, the Red Sox shifted their outfielders around, putting one fielder in shallow right and leaving left field open against the left-handed hitting Joey Gallo.


The third change is larger bases, an increase from 15 square inches to 18 square inches. The hope is larger bases will lead to more stolen bases. Attempted steals are exciting to watch and also would increase scoring.

“The run game, preventing the run game, is something that we’ve talked about, we’re going to continue to talk about, because … the stolen-base attempt should increase a good bit, I think,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora called the larger bases “pizza boxes” in spring training.

“It’s definitely different, for sure,” Padres star third baseman Manny Machado said. “They look better. I just got to kind of keep playing with it and stepping on it and kind of like getting the feel for it. But it’s definitely different for sure.”


The defending World Series champion Houston Astros open at home Friday night against the Chicago White Sox.

The runner-up Philadelphia Phillies are on the road Friday afternoon in an interleague game against the Texas Rangers.

Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, and the Los Angeles take on the Oakland A’s on the road in a late-night game.