MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, was known to be looking at pace of play initiatives in order to speed up games. What nobody knew was how far he’d go and whether or not the players would be in agreement with the changes made.
After more than a year of negotiations, the Major League Baseball Players Association refused to agree to the changes but also signed an agreement that it will not oppose the rules.
Well, now we know what the first set of changes are, and we know the players were consulted but did not agree to any of the changes MLB has decided to implement.
Here’s a link to the Tweet distributed by MLB,
.@MLB announces pace of play initiatives for 2018 season: https://t.co/4UG73XhW9t
— MLB (@MLB) February 19, 2018
But for a more comprehensive look through what it means we recommend what Steve Adams posted on MLBTR, “MLB Announces 2018 Pace of Play Initiatives” .
Here’s the rundown of what changes are being made:
- Limited now 6 non-pitching-change mound visits per game (1 per 1.5 innings on average)
- Non-pitching-change mound visit definition: “a manager or coach trip to the mount to meet with the pitcher” and “a player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher, including a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player … regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit.”
- Extra Innings: teams get 1 more non-pitching-change mound visit per inning
- Appeal: If all 6 game visits have been used, catcher can appeal to umpire
- Time between innings changed to following:
- 2:05 during local TV coverage games (regular season)
- 2:25 during nationally televised games (regular season)
- 2:55 for any tiebreaker or post-season games
- Instant Replay:
- Teams now get “direct slow motion camera angles” and phone lines “connecting the video review rooms and the dugout”
On the changes, Rob Manfred noted the following,
“I am pleased that we were able to reach an understanding with the Players Association to take concrete steps to address pace of play with the cooperation of players,” said Rob Manfred in announcing the changes. “My strong preference is to continue to have ongoing dialogue with players on this topic to find mutually acceptable solutions.”
So you may ask yourself, how does this change anything for the chances of MLB expanding in the near future?
MLB Pace of Play: Commissioner Acts on Changes
The notable point here is that the Commissioner is willing – and able – to act on changes regardless of what the perception is overall. Many in the media, and players overall, were not pushing for these changes to take place. Yet, Rob Manfred took the initiative on and made change happen.
Could the same be true when it comes to expansion?
Here’s a Commissioner that told everyone that changes were coming to pace of play, and he followed through on those changes. And not only did he follow through, he also heeded some advice from the players who showed a strong resistance to the pitch clock idea.
Instead of forcing the pitch clock idea, he decided to wait a year and see how things wind up.
The point being that a history of following through with statements made brings us to expansion, on which Rob Manfred stated this,
Rob Manfred says his personal "frontrunners" for MLB expansion are Montreal and Mexico City: https://t.co/aQwVZM2qNF pic.twitter.com/EmdHJvhIOF
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) May 6, 2016
If he is as accountable to MLB expansion as he is to pace of play initiatives, there’s a good chance that expansion will occur. And if his personal “frontrunners” can come through as he expects with extremely strong bids, it’s a good bet that they’ll get the franchises they covet.
It doesn’t guarantee anyone anything, but it does show a good track record, and it’s an encouraging sign we can hold up as hope the Montreal Expos will return.
– Mat Germain, baseball writer for Expos Reloaded and SB Nation’s DRaysBay, with more than 10 years covering the Toronto Blue Jays (Jays Journal) and Tampa Bay Rays. Still serving in the Canadian Armed Forces as a Reservist and Operations Officer for 413 Search and Rescue Squadron in Greenwood, Nova Scotia. Follow Mat on Twitter @MatGermain76.