Rob Manfred is at again. Unlike his predecessor, this Major League Baseball commissioner is not bound by inertia as if it was its own unwritten rule. And every so often, Manfred pops up in the media and makes a suggestion or lets slip the idea of a rule change. Like today.
This time, Manfred wants to maybe possibly who knows why not change how relievers are used.
"Relief pitchers have really changed the game," he said on WFAN radio. "The use of relief pitchers—obviously every time you have a pitching change, it goes contrary to our pace-of-game efforts. And the other thing it does—and hats off to them—our relievers now are so good that they actually make the back end of the game—seven, eight and nine—with less action in it. And when you think about keeping people engaged, you've got to ask yourself, 'Is this a good thing for the game?'"
So this again. Last year, Manfred bandied around the idea of getting rid of the shift, now it's curtailing relief pitcher appearances. The reasons not to are pretty obvious and many of them revolve around the fact that MLB pitchers are getting hurt at heightened rates right now and taking out a way to keep them from pitching even more seems like a bad idea.
Not to mention, Manfred is missing the point. People who find baseball to be too slow and too long aren't saying that because two extra relievers have to come into the game. It's probably because baseball games are slow and long.
It's not likely that anything will actually be done about this. The last time Manfred floated a thought balloon, he got shouted down by nearly everyone for trying to get rid of the shift. Fans and baseball people don't usually respond well to a commissioner trying to create artificial limits on strategy and playing style.
Still, this idea is the one that caught on in the media Thursday. Manfred espoused a few other things as he made the rounds. On ESPN radio, he said that people in the commissioner's office actually spent time trying to figure out how to make a pitchers-only home run derby happen. But that got turned down, he said, because pitchers wanted to be in the real one. He also said MLB wouldn't be against stronger penalties for players caught using PEDs but the players association wasn't for that.
And the day isn't over yet. Who knows what other possibilities Manfred could let slip.