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 Forbes.com, 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.
- Grant Brisbee thinks March is the worst month for baseball, and so he ranked all the months in order of baseball goodness.
- David Price and the Red Sox got the best news possible from Dr. James Andrews: no surgery needed!
- In a surprise move, the White Sox released Brett Lawrie.
- And now that Lawrie’s released (or will officially be soon), should the Royals try to sign him?
- After two seasons of being hurt, doesn't Hunter Pence deserve a fully healthy chance at 162 games? He does, and here's hoping he gets it.
- The Royals farm system isn't in great shape, but you know what could change that? A fire sale!
- There's still time for the Yankees to add more depth to their roster, and Pinstripe Alley picks a few free agents they could target.
- There are a lot of new guys on the Mariners this season. Like, really a lot. And they all have to get to know each other.
- Noah Syndergaard is appearing on "Game of Thrones" this season, so he's obviously on his way to becoming the first bonafide baseball TV star. Right?