Next season, MLB is going to begin enforcing limits on infield shifts by requiring all infielders to have both their feet on the infield dirt with at least two infielders on each side of the second base bag.
However, due to a lack of rules dictating where the inner edge of the dirt should be and no enforcement of the existing rules, there are inconsistencies with the dirt length and size at each stadium.
The infield dirt is supposed to be 95 feet from the center of the pitcher’s mound, but not every team is following that rule. With the dirt now playing an important role with the shift, MLB plans to begin enforcing the infield dirt size, according to Jayson Stark of The Athletic:
So MLB now does plan to enforce that rule, beginning next season. That makes sense.
But it does not plan to enforce the rule literally, according to sources. It will allow up to a foot of leeway in either direction, to account for what one source described as groundskeeping “error.” So it’s still possible the back edge of the dirt in various parks could extend anywhere from 94 to 96 feet from the center of the mound.
MLB began its enforcement already by measuring the infield dirt at every stadium, but only one was found to be in violation:
MLB officials recently began measuring the depth of infield dirt in all 30 parks. Sources say only one park — it’s not known which one — is in violation at the moment. That violation will be rectified by the 2023 season.
Stadium infields will also be checked regularly to make sure they are not in violation of the rules.
Although it may not seem important, it could provide an advantage to teams who have slightly longer infield. Having a deeper infield would provide a slight benefit to team defenses because infielders are not allowed to shift onto the outfield grass anymore.
Manfred regrets “piece of metal” comments
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recently expressed his regrets for prior controversial comments about the World Series trophy, calling it a piece of metal in defense of the lack of punishment surrounding the Houston Astros cheating scandal.
Manfred did right to openly apologize for these comments — as he did almost immediately after making them — but the sting still remains within baseball fandom.