The times they are a changin’

Completely unknown to me (not that I matter but I tend to keep up on things about the rules), Major League Baseball recodified, and reorganized their rule book for the 2015 season. They are available on Amazon and online.

This was under the radar so much that if you Google “new rule format”, “baseball rules reorganized” or similar phrases, there are no articles even talking about the change. The news is just starting to hit the umpire message boards (these exist, don’t judge).

So, how is the book formatted now? Instead of organized by position (batter, hitter, pitcher) it is organized by how the game is played (equipment, playing the game, illegal activities, etc.). Is this better?

Frankly I am not sure yet. We wrote RuleGraphics because we thought the book lacked a structure that made sense. Of course, we are used to that structure so any change will lead to confusion and anger.

In the end, I think this is a good thing. To find the basics of playing, go to the playing section. To find a penalty, go to the section on illegal acts. The only thing I don’t like it that the former Rule 2.00 is now at the end (and is not numbered). Rule 2.00 contains all the definitions – a vital place to start learning the rules. I like this up front.

Otherwise, the actual content appears to be the same (mine is coming in the mail so I will have more a of a look). In some instances the definition is added to the book making things easier to find. I think this is a good step.

Both the online and print version contains the rules in the “2015 format” and the normal “2014 format”. There is a cross reference table in the back to map the rules to each other. In addition, the new format contains where the old rule is located in parenthesis next to each entry.

Other organizations use similar formats to the old OBR book, it will be interesting if they follow the lead and change their books.

For the curious, here is how the books compare in terms of contents.

2014 format:

  1. Objectives, Playing Field, Equipment
  2. Definition of Terms
  3. Game Preliminaries
  4. Starting and Ending the Game
  5. Putting the Ball in Play, Dead Ball and Live Ball
  6. The Batter
  7. The Runner
  8. The Pitcher
  9. The Umpire
  10. The Official Scorer

2015 Format

  1. Objectives
  2. The Playing Field
  3. Equipment and Uniforms
  4. Game Preliminaries
  5. Playing the Game
    1. Things covered
      1. Positions
      2. Coaches
      3. Batter
      4. Pitching
      5. Scoring
      6. Outs
      7. Substituting
      8. Etc
  6. Improper Play, Illegal Action and Misconduct
    1. Things covered
      1. Interference, obstruction, catcher collisions
      2. Pitcher Illegal Action
      3. Batter Illegal Action
      4. Unsportsmanlike Conduct
  7. Ending the Game
  8. The Umpire
  9. The Official Scorer
  10. Definitions (although not numbered)
  11. Appendices
    1. Diagram of field
    2. Base layout
    3. Pitching mound layout
    4. Glove dimensions
    5. Strike Zone
  12. Rule Cross Reference Table

Pretty significant reorganization. At this point, I have a choice when writing this blog – use old numbering, new numbering or both. My goal eventually will be to use both. While I am learning the format of the new book, I will use the old format.

The second edition of RuleGraphics will more than likely reference both coding methods.



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