I have listed here the changes in the playing rules for the 2014 Korea Baseball Championship season. The Korea Baseball Organizaion’s (KBO) Official Playing Rule Committee held a meeting on December 12 to go through the official rulebook and discuss whether any changes should be made or any new rules should be added. These rules will eventually be cascaded down to the amateur level in the near future. I have tried my best to keep the translation direct as possible, and included any additional words in brackets or parenthesis to help your understanding.
Official Baseball Rules
6.10(b)ⓒ – Substitution of Designated Hitter
– Added: If a Designated Hitter is ejected from a game, the manager [of the ejected Designated Hitter’s team] shall immediately notify the Umpire-in-Chief (plate umpire) of the substitute hitter who will bat in the batting order of the Designated Hitter.
- Note: I am thinking the addition of this clause has something to do with Seoul Doosan Bears designated hitter Hong Sung-heun’s (홍성흔) ejection during a game on April 5. Once the plate umpire signaled the ejection, the entire coaching staff came out from the dugout (when only the manager is allowed to appeal) to argue the call, thus causing a delay. Kim Jin-wook (김진욱), who was the manager back then, was criticized by the KBO for protecting his player. So, this feels pretty much like a don’t-argue-with-the-authority rule.
8.05(b) – If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when—
– Before change: The pitcher, while touching his plate, feints a throw to first and fails to complete the throw;
– After change: The pitcher, while touching his plate, feints a throw to first or “third base” and fails to complete the throw;
– Before change: A pitcher is to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base but does not require him to throw (except to first base only) because he steps. It is possible, with runners on first and third, for the pitcher to step toward third and not throw, merely to bluff the runner back to third; then seeing the runner on first start for second, turn and step toward and throw to first base. This is legal. However, if, with runners on first and third, the pitcher, while in contact with the rubber, steps toward third and then immediately and in practically the same motion wheels and throws to first base, it is obviously an attempt to deceive the runner at first base, and in such a move it is practically impossible to step directly toward first base before the throw to first base, and such a move shall be called a balk. Of course, if the pitcher steps off the rubber and then makes such a move, it is not a balk.
– After change: A pitcher is to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base, and is a balk, if the pitcher steps towards a base and does not throw to that base (except to second base). It is a balk if, with runners on first and third, the pitcher, while touching his plate, steps toward third and does not throw, merely to bluff the runner back to third; then seeing the runner on first start for second, turn and step toward and throw to first base.
- Note: This rule was enforced in Major League Baseball beginning with last season. It actually began, however, with the 2013 World Baseball Classic. So, this is basically Korea complying with the international standard.
Official League Guidelines
Speeding-up the Game, 6 – The Rosin Bag
– Before change: If a pitcher applies excessive amount of rosin, a a warning shall be issued to the pitcher, and any subsequent violation shall be called a ball.
– After change: Neither shall the pitcher be permitted to apply excessive amount of rosin nor apply rosin to any other parts (arm, cap, uniform pants, etc.). No pitcher shall also be permitted to grab and dust the rosin bag. If a pitcher violates any part of this rule, a warning shall be issued to the pitcher, and any subsequent violation shall be called a ball.
- Other than the fact that fooling around with the rosin bag delays time, it seems some pitchers have been notorious in trying to distract the batter by dusting it around himself as if the rosin was some sort of magic dust. The league has finally decided to put an end to this.
Addendum, 5 – Bat Grip Sprays
– Before change: No spray shall be permitted to use during a game.
– After change: Bat grip sprays shall be permitted to use during a game as long as the product (bat grip spray) does not contain freon (CFCs).
- This rule has actually been amended to speed up the game. Back in 1997, as the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change neared, the entire nation went anti-CFC frenzy. This affected baseball as well, and every batter had to go back to the old-fashioned pine tar, which ate up game time, for better grips ever since. However, around five years ago, a Japanese CFC-less bat grip spray was introduced in Korea. Players have demanded the KBO to allow the use of these environmental-friendly sprays, and the KBO said they will consider about it. It took five years to consider about it.
Speeding-up the Game – Substituting Pitchers
– Added: When a pitcher is replaced during a game, the substitute pitcher shall move promptly to the mound as soon as the substitution is announced. When pitchers are changed during an inning, the time of the substitution shall be 2 minutes and 45 seconds from the point in time when the substitution is notified to the scorekeeper, and the time limit for the substitution shall be indicated on the scoreboard. The Umpire-in-Chief (plate umpire) shall signal “one more pitch” from the 2 minutes and 30 seconds mark even if the pitcher has not reached the required amount of preparatory pitches.
- A pitching change in Korean professional baseball feels like it is taking forever, because no time limit has been mentioned in the rulebook. But, this 2’45” does not seem like a short period of time. It’s actually longer than the time limit for in-between innings.
Speeding-up the Game – Pitch at the Batter’s Head
– Added: The Umpire-in-Chief (plate umpire) shall primarily issue a warning to a pitch (fastball) at a batter’s head, and expel the pitcher when it (pitched ball to the batter’s head) hits or touches [the batter] regardless of what his thought may have been.
- If you have been following Korean professional baseball, you will have an idea where this all came from. On September 8, LG Twins starter Radhames Liz drilled Samsung Lions’ Bae Young-seop (배영섭) in the head with a 94 mph fastball. Bae had to be carried off the field as he eventually left the game with a concussion.
- This have created the first heated discussion of the new year in Korea’s baseball realm. This rule actually existed for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Notice that I have underlined the word “fastball”, because during the two previous seasons that applied this rule the league did NOT mention the type of the pitch. Pitchers had been thrown out of the game after mistakingly throwing a bad change-up to the batter’s head. What is more is that the rule was abused to the point where batters intentionally stood still on a change-up to the head in the hopes of knocking out a pitcher, who is in complete control, to an early shower. 10 pitchers in 2003, and 24 pitchers in 2004 had been automatically thrown out of the game for being an alleged headhunter. Now the league has specifically mentioned “fastball”, and we will have to see how this will play out. Will this rule keep pitchers from making inside pitches?
- This is a very unique approach towards the whole “headhunting” (referred as “head shot” in Korea) issue as I have never heard MLB or Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) come up with a decision like this. This may have a link to the Korean culture of partnership (동업자 정신) enforced in their very own way. Deep remorse must be expressed when injuring a competitor in your business because of the mutual connection you have with the competitor. In this case, (and I have heard this notion from multiple fans) the pitcher who drills a batter in the head, regardless of his intention, should be pulled out from the game by his manager as a token of remorse. Back to the Liz story, Liz was booed pretty hard by Samsung fans after staying in the game, and those boos were not only meant for Liz, but for the whole LG Twins organization. They strongly believed the Twins were being rude to leave him in the game after such incident.
- Wait! One more thing before I finish this post. Why is this categorized under “Speeding-up the Game”? My wild guess is that the league believes the ejection will eliminate any potential of a bench-clearing brawl …?
- Korea Baseball Organization – KBO 규칙위원회 회의 결과 발표
- 2013 Official Playing Rules (공식 야구 규칙), Korea Baseball Organization
- 2013 Official League Guidelines (한국 프로 야구 대회 요강), Korea Baseball Organization
- 2012 Edition Official Baseball Rules, Major League Baseball
- 2013 Edition Official Baseball Rules, Major League Baseball
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