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Pace of play was one of the very first things that Rob Manfred said he'd like to change as commissioner, and the topic has popped up again and again as the subject of debate during the first two years of his tenure.
Now it's back again, as the prime focus of the quarterly Owners Meetings held last week. Manfred told reporters on Friday that the owners reviewed a set of pace-of-play rule changes that are being discussed with the players' association, and he emphasized that this should be an issue that concerns anyone who loves baseball — "players, owners, umpires, everyone who is invested in this game"— because it's an issue that's key to the popularity of the sport.
We've heard this all before, of course. But — is it actually true?
It's certainly true that keeping baseball popular among young people is good for the long-term welfare of the sport. There are plenty of ways to do that, however, such as capitalizing on the marketability of young stars. (What other sport can claim someone under 25 who's as dominant as Mike Trout right now?) Introducing a pitch clock or tightening restrictions on visits to the mound seem more like small surface-level fixes rather than a way of addressing the problem effectively at its roots.
Most of the pace-of-play changes proposed would shave a few minutes off per game, if even that. People who aren't watching baseball already probably aren't going to start if the average game drops from three hours to two hours and 45 minutes. The pace-of-play conversation is likely only going to keep picking up steam from here, but it's worth questioning why it's a conversation we're having in the first place.
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- Why did an era best known for comically inflated offense also produce the best seasons of pitching of all time? Beyond the Box Score analyzes Pedro Martinez and others.
- Erstwhile San Francisco Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff recently came under fire for his anti-protester tweets, leading McCovey Chronicles to ask the question — how would former Giants stars have done on Twitter?
- Big Papi is having fun in his first offseason of retirement, including a charity event with everyone's favorite creepy denizens of Willy Wonka's factory.
- Edwin Diaz was fantastic last year, but he represents a big gamble for the Seattle Mariners.
- Federal Baseball tries to predict Adam Eaton's first season with the Washington Nationals.
- Could new pitch tunneling data be behind the frustrations of some New York Yankees pitchers? Pinstripe Alley's Jake Devin investigates.
- St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but just in case, Viva El Birdos has a replacement lined up.
- Routine plays might be underrated.
- Should the Tampa Bay Rays repeat an old trick of the organization with Blake Snell?