If all goes according to plan, Major League Baseball games will start speeding up as soon as the 2018 season.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred indicated to reporters Thursday that there will be rule changes implemented for the upcoming season that will be made with the intent of speeding up the pace of play.
Although we will know about those rule changes before spring training games begin next week, it still is unclear what specific changes are expected to take place.
“There are going to be rule changes with respect to pace of play for the 2018 season,” Manfred said, via ESPN. “You’ll know about those rule changes before we start playing spring training games. One way or the other, those changes are going to be as a result of an agreement with the MLBPA. It’s either going to be a specific agreement on specific rule changes or they’ll be rule changes that we put in place as a result of the provision in the basic agreement that allows us to make that change.
“I don’t see anything about those pace-of-play discussions that should be a labor relations negative over the long haul. I really don’t. We have gone out of our way to solicit player input. We’ve delayed taking any action. We’ve made it clear from the very, very beginning that our strong preference was to have an agreement with the players, and in fact we have significantly altered our substantive positions based on input we’ve had from players. That’s the bargaining process. It really shouldn’t be a negative.”
There’s plenty to digest there.
Arguably the biggest thing the commissioner indicates is that player input did seem to have a somewhat profound impact on the changes the league is planning on making. In doing that, it should make the relations between the league and players’ association far more amicable when the changes are made.
It is worth noting Manfred was an advocate of a 20-second pitch clock, but that idea was axed — at least for now — earlier in the offseason. With that being the biggest potential source of speeding up games, the next logical thing to assume would be limiting mound visits.
Either way, we should know soon enough how the league plans on making its product a bit snappier.