MLB will announce a series of pace-of-play rule changes today, Jayson Stark reports. Managers will have to stay in the dugout during replay challenges and hitters will have to keep a foot in the batter's box between pitches. Also, MLB will aim to return to play more quickly following commercial breaks (which should last either two minutes and 25 seconds or two minutes and 45 seconds), and pitching changes will be timed. Beginning in May, players will be warned and then fined up to $500 for violations of these rules. There will not be a pitch clock, although MLB will inform pitchers of how long they're taking.
I think I said last spring that I didn't care about pace-of-play issues -- baseball is supposed to be a leisurely game, and if it dragged on a bit, good. As the season went on, though, I changed my mind. It's a long season, and it's easier to bask in a three-and-a-half-hour game in April than one in August.
It's unclear how these rules will affect players. Ike Davis has said that the rules will have a negative effect on him. There's a joke in there about how you could tell if Davis were playing worse, but that aside, it will be interesting to see if these rules hurt some players more than others.