Rob Manfred has been adamant about making baseball more watchable since he took over as Major League Baseball commissioner this winter. Today, he took action with the announcement of three news rules that will hopefully cut down the time of the average baseball game in 2015.
First, hitters must keep at least one foot in the batter's box "unless one of a group of exceptions occurs." This rule was already in the book, but the new announcement says that it will be enforced this season. According to the rule, the umpire may issue a warning or even call a strike if the batter leaves the batter's box with the intent to delay the game. One of the exceptions is that the batter can still call for time whenever he wants to. The umpire doesn't have to grant it, though.
The second new rule deals with the time that elapses in between innings. Upon the completion of an inning or the start of a pitching change, a clock in the stadium will begin to count down from 2:25 (or 2:45 for national television games). With 40 seconds remaining, the batter will be announced. With 30 seconds remaining, the pitcher will throw his last warm-up pitch, even if he hasn't used all eight of his warm-up pitches yet. At 20 seconds, the batter will get into the batter's box, with the first pitch coming when the clock hits zero.
The final rule change has to do with instant replay. Managers no longer have to approach the umpire in order to request a review. They only have to get on the top step of the dugout and signal to one of the umpires that they're thinking about it. This might solve the problem with a manager slowly strolling out onto the field to give his replay guy more time, but it doesn't say anything about how long the skipper is allowed to hold play for.
Also, we can now review whether or not a runner left on time during tag-up plays. And managers can now make as many challenges as they want as long as they keep getting them right.
Last year, it was the umpire's call on whether or not to review home plate collisions. This year, a manager can ask for a review without umpire approval.
In the postseason, tiebreaker games, and the all-important All-Star Game, managers will start out with two challenges instead of one.