Is It Still Baseball?

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The Atlantic League is an independent professional baseball league.  Eight teams are in the league and are located in Pennsylvania (2), Maryland, Texas, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. In the past, they have used a pitch clock and a clock between innings to speed up the game.  They have decided to get more innovative.

This year, the League has agreed to a three-year partnership with Major League Baseball to implement some changes to the game.

The League will incorporate seven changes this season:

  • Computers using radar tracking systems will assist umpires in calling balls and strikes. Plate umpires will wear an earpiece and will be given the ball/strike calls.  Umpires can override the call.  If a ball crosses home plate after bouncing in front, the computer may incorrectly rule that pitch a strike. That call can be changed.  In addition, an umpire will rule on check swings.
  • The distance between the pitching rubber and home plate will be lengthened from 60 feet-6 inches to 62 feet-2 inches. This rule will take effect the second half of the season.
  • The time between innings will be reduced from 125 seconds to 105 seconds.
  • Pitchers must face at least three batters or get to the end of an inning (an injury to a pitcher supersedes the rule).
  • No visits to the mound will be allowed, except to change pitchers or due to injury.
  • Infield alignments must have two players on both sides of second base.
  • Speaking of bases, their size will increase to 18 inches from 15 inches, so, in essence, runners will be three inches closer to the bases. Home plate size remains the same.

Baseball purists love the game because there is NO clock.  Baseball critics complain that the game takes too long.  I find this experiment to be fascinating.  There should be shorter games with more offense.

This is a league that does not produce a large number of major leaguers, but the league does draw fans to their ballparks.  The stadiums can accommodate @ 5,750 fans on average.  It seems like the perfect place to experiment.

I do not expect that many of these rules will be adapted.  But, I do expect most of them to create interesting conversation and the Atlantic League, I’m sure, does not mind having the focus on them for the next three seasons.

I know I will be checking out opinions on the changes.


  1. Guess who wants to come back to the Eagles? DeSean Jackson!  He was a second round draft pick in 2008 and spent six years with the Eagles.  Chip Kelly cut him after he had his best professional career.  The Eagles do need a deep threat.  And, thank goodness, Chip Kelly is gone.
  1. College football spring practice begins this week. Penn State has to replace Trace McSorley who was the heart and soul of their team.  Tommy Stevens will get his chance to shine, but he will have to do it with a very young roster.  The expectations are lower than usual for this team.
  1. If Joel Embiid can stay healthy, the Sixers have a shot at an NBA title. Without him, they do not.  They are just better than average when he does not play.
  1. A-Rod and J-Lo got engaged this week. I hope those two “kids” can get off to a good start in life.
  1. March Madness has begun with conference titles to be decided this week followed by the NCAA selections for their tournament. It’s time to really start paying attention so you are not embarrassed by your office pool.  I speak from experience.
Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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