If left up to him, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred would probably disconnect the call to the bullpen.
Manfred has been on a quest to quicken the pace of play in baseball, in order to make baseball more appealing to the gnat-like attention span of the modern sports fan.
One of the main culprits, Manfred feels, standing in the way of improving the said pace of play, are relievers. The commish has said relievers “slow down the pace of the game,” and “rob action out of the end of the game.”
And now, he has a plan to put an end to it. According to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, Manfred said, “We have to accept the game is changing, maybe faster than some of us would like. Our job is how best to manage the change. My first priority is the dead time issue, especially late in the game, which we have started to address with changes such as limiting the instant replay time, waiving of the four-pitch intentional walk and (still being negotiated) limiting mound visits. After that, there may have to be a next round of changes which could affect the competition (like the limiting of relievers in one inning), some of which may not be realistic.”
While not everyone will agree on Manfred’s rule changes, the facts show that baseball is losing young people in America at a frightening rate.
On Opening Day this year, nearly one-third of MLB players were foreign-born. It’s not at all unrealistic to think that 50 years from now, 50% or more of the league’s players will hail from other countries. Those numbers will not improve unless more American kids see a better balance between the action of baseball, and the anticipation of action.
Manfred may not have all the right answers, but he’s asking the right questions.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn