Commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike that MLB is considering limiting the number of relief pitchers that can be used in a game and that he favors such a restriction.
The move, theoretically, will help speed up the game and, hopefully, create more dynamic offense.
“You know the problem with relief pitchers is that they’re so good,” the commissioner opined. “I’ve got nothing against relief pitchers but they do two things to the game; the pitching changes themselves slow the game down and our relief pitchers have become so dominant at the back end that they actually rob action out of the end of the game, the last few innings of the game. So relief pitchers is a topic that is under active consideration. We’re talking about that a lot internally.”
The Mercury News reported in May that this season a nine-inning game takes on average three hours and 26 seconds, approximately seven minutes longer to play than at the same point last season.
Manfred told the News that he was “reaching out” to the players’ union to express his concern for the slow play. According to ESPN, the average of 289.25 pitches thrown per nine innings ranks as the highest in seven years.
Sports writer R.J. Anderson at CBS Sports is not so keen on the idea. “Much like the since-fizzled movement to ban defensive shifts, what we’re really doing here is minimizing strategy, which is part of what makes the game the game in the first place.”
Many fans took to twitter and showed they sympathize with Anderson’s viewpoint more than they do with the commissioner:
PEOPLE ANNOYED BY BASEBALL TAKING TOO LONG
1. People who don’t like baseball anyway
3. Owners paying stadium workers by the hour
— (((Jesse Spector))) (@jessespector) July 21, 2016
my entire timeline right now is people quoting the same tweet and (rightly) mocking Rob Manfred’s latest Very Bad Idea
— Bill P (@Bill_TPA) July 21, 2016
I don’t care that baseball games are long
— uɐɯssnS ʇʇɐW (@suss2hyphens) July 21, 2016