Commissioner Rob Manfred joined WFAN, a CBS Sports Radio station, in New York on Thursday afternoon. Among other things, Manfred discussed with Kim Jones and Chris Carlin what changes he might make to the sport heading forward -- because, by law, we're required to discuss ways to improve baseball more often than we discuss baseball itself.
Manfred, ever concerned with the pace of play, has his sights set on egregious pitching changes:
Rob Manfred just told us he would consider limiting the number of pitching changes in the game. Thinks it hurts pace of game.— Chris Carlin (@ChrisCarlinSNY) July 21, 2016
Here's exactly what he said:
"Relief pitchers have really changed the game. The use of relief pitchers -- obviously every time you have a pitching change, it goes contrary to our pace-of-game efforts. And the other thing it does -- and hats off to them -- our relievers now are so good that they actually make the back end of the game -- seven, eight and nine -- with less action in it. And when you think about keeping people engaged, you've got to ask yourself, 'Is this a good thing for the game?'"
You can listen to the full interview here:
Let's concede this much: it can be frustrating watching Bruce Bochy change pitchers three times in a half inning, especially if you lack rooting interest and/or have something else to do.
Still, doesn't this idea violate the integrity of the game? Much like the since-fizzled movement to ban defensive shifts, what we're really doing here is minimizing strategy, which is part of what makes the game the game in the first place.
So long as managers are limited in their pitching options, they're going to have to balance maximizing every sequence while having enough pitchers in the tank to get through the rest of the game. This is strategy -- and arguably baseball -- at its most essential. Taking that away, or limiting it in some fashion, changes the game -- and changes it in ways that maybe we don't, or shouldn't, want it changed.
Besides, while wanting to appeal to a broader base (or a younger base, anyway) is a great idea, what does it say about us if think the way to do that is to remove some of the headwork? And what does it say if the means to get there is to make baseball less like baseball?
Predictably, Twitter wasn't too fond of Manfred's comments:
PEOPLE ANNOYED BY BASEBALL TAKING TOO LONG— (((Jesse Spector))) (@jessespector) July 21, 2016
1. People who don't like baseball anyway
3. Owners paying stadium workers by the hour
I 🌭 don't 🌭 care 🌭 that 🌭 baseball 🌭 games 🌭 are 🌭 long— uɐɯssnS ʇʇɐW (@suss2hyphens) July 21, 2016
my entire timeline right now is people quoting the same tweet and (rightly) mocking Rob Manfred's latest Very Bad Idea— Bill P (@Bill_TPA) July 21, 2016
wow Rob Manfred said wants to surround all of the bases with thousands of bees— Brian Pickett (@BrianPickett) July 21, 2016
Seems like the bees would be more well received.