Major League Baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, is continuing to explore ways in which he may be able to speed up the pace of play in today’s game. The commish spoke with John Harper of the NY Daily News about the possible ways he may look to do this.
In Minor League baseball, a 20-second pitch clock is utilized to help speed up the pace of play. If a pitcher does not start his windup before this 20-second clock ticks to zero, a ball is awarded to the batter.
“The reason I like the clock is not that I’m looking to force somebody to do something, but I think it is a constant reminder of the need to move things along, and I think that’s really important in terms of dealing with the pace-of-play issues,” Manfred said.
“It’s had great results in the minor leagues. Quantitative data shows that it made the games go faster, but equally important, players don’t complain about it. They get used to it and they work within it.”
This could be a decent rule to implement to the Major League level as it is not too intrusive to changing the integrity of America’s pastime. It will help to speed things along quite a bit while upping the pressure on a pitcher in high leverage situations. No longer will they be able to stalk around the mound and compose themselves while readying to face a batter in a key moment of the game.
On the more controversial front, Manfred has explored limiting the usage of relievers.
“I don’t want to pre-judge these issues. The easiest things to deal with are dead time. How much time does it take a batter to get into the box? How much time is there between pitches? How much time does it take to effectuate a pitching change? There are lots of things around the concept of a pitching change. How quickly does the guy get in from the bullpen? How many warm-up pitches does he need?
“Those are all non-competitive things. When you get into dictating the use of a particular kind of player that affects the competition more directly, you have to go slower.”
The commissioner does not go into detail on what this may look like but it is hard not to ponder what this could mean. Could we see a minimum on how many batters a reliever must face when entering a game? Could this eliminate the lefty specialist who just comes in to face that one batter? It is interesting to think where this may go and how it effects a team’s philosophy of putting together a bullpen.
Pitching changes and pinch hitters have been the ultimate game of chess between opposing managers for years. Changing this rule would certainly be a controversial one to say the least. It though cannot be argued on the impact it may have in the change of pace in a game where at times you may see four pitching changes in just one inning.
With Manfred continually looking for ways to keep baseball up with the times, there is certain to be more changes coming. At times though it also hard not to worry at just how much change Manfred may be looking to do with our favorite game.