As MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred is always looking for ways to optimize the baseball experience for fans, and in 2016, that almost always boils down to one key facet of the game: pace of play.
Manfred is open to several rule changes that would shorten the length of games, including limiting the number of relief pitchers that can be used. That change, however, might not happen anytime soon – or at all.
“We haven’t gotten to the point that we’re focused on any particular change,” Manfred said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “The relief-pitcher issue was one example of things that we’re looking at. The fact of the matter is this: The question is not whether they’re going to change the game or not; the fact of the matter is, our game has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. All of the numbers – home runs, strikeouts – reflect the changes that have taken place. Other numbers, like the number of pitchers that are use not only in a game but over the course of the season by teams, has changed dramatically. The question is, is it time for us to manage that change a little bit, or should we just allow it to continue on in a natural way? . . . I think we have gotten to a point where the game has evolved enough that it is time for us to manage that change in a way to make sure that we provide our fans with a game that has action, that moves along with an appropriate pace and is the best entertainment product possible.”
Rule changes, of course, require time, consensus and negotiation.
“Well, it is a difficult process,” Manfred said. “First of all, we’d have to have consensus among the ownership group about making a change, and because it affects the terms and conditions of employment of our players, we’d have to negotiate with the MLBPA over that type of a rule change. We have a great relationship with the MLBPA, and I hope that on these issues like other issues they’ll work with us to make sure that our game is as strong as possible.”