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There might be actual progress on pace of play

Saturday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes an actual good suggestion about pace of play, great news about David Price, and the Mariners’ team-building exercises.

Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for Yahoo Finance

Yesterday was a rare day because Rob Manfred actually said something new and interesting about pace of play. In an interview with Maury Brown of, Manfred said that he'd be open to exploring the idea of shortening commercial breaks as a way to help pace of play.

MLB currently has "commitments" that prevent that from happening now, but he's open to it in the future. This is the first time he's talked about adjusting something outside the game to help pace of play; in the past, he's discussed implementing pitch clocks and strike zone adjustments (among other things) to help speed up the action in baseball games.

This all seems unexpected, mostly because shortening commercial breaks isn’t a bad idea. It wouldn’t subtract a lot of time from a game, but even 30 seconds for each commercial break would shave off nearly 10 minutes per game, not counting for pitching changes. But Manfred finally clarified himself about pace of play, saying that it wasn’t actually about making games shorter (though he seems to have almost entirely focused on that as of late). It’s about making games more interesting. Games can be as lengthy as they are now, as long as there’s more happening.

But that’s where the trouble is. Manfred can make little changes, but there’s no magic thing he can do to make it all work. It’s going to take a lot of changes to get the result he wants, and putting a lot of changes together like that will just feel...forced.

Baseball has rules, but nothing in the game feels forced. Things feel organic, and that’s how they should stay. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be what Manfred wants. He's concerned about baseball's lack of younger fans, and rightly so, and he sees this as the way to fix that problem. And not just that. He sees these pace-of-play changes as a way to make baseball better as a whole. He wants to modernize the game. Whether or not the game really, truly needs it, that's what he wants to do.