Major League Baseball Is Changing How Intentional Walks Are Given Out

Pitchers will no longer have to throw four balls.

Major League Baseball is about to make a major rule change, altering how intentional walks are handed out.

Instead of a pitcher throwing four pitches out of the strike zone, the walk will be awarded by a signal from the dugout, ESPN reported Tuesday night.

The network said the league and its union have agreed to the change, which will take effect this season.

MLB has been trying to make its games shorter.

However, The Wall Street Journal said last week that the change would save an average of 14 seconds per game.

Fans are not happy about the change, with many pointing out that botched intentional walks have led to game-changing moments.

Some baseball fans even suggested what the new signal should be:

Baseball has made a number of changes to the game in recent years, including rules on sliding into catchers and at second base as well as the landmark addition of instant replay in 2008.

The four-pitch walk rule dates to 1889, the same year the sacrifice bunt was statistically recognized, according to Baseball Almanac. Before that, walks had been awarded after eight balls (1880), six (1884) and five (1887).

This makes the four-pitch walk older than large mitts for catchers (1891), the infield fly rule (1895) and the sacrifice fly (1908), but not as old as coaches (1887), chest protectors (1885), 15-inch canvas bases and the location of home plate (1877), Baseball Almanac says.

It’s not yet clear if the new rule on walks will take effect in time for the first spring training games later this week.

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