MLB commissioner Rob Manfred

Shanna Lockwood/USA Today Sports

Bernstein: Crazy MLB Rules Creep Closer

Minor league games will start with a runner on second base in extra innings.

Dan Bernstein
March 14, 2018 - 3:17 pm
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By Dan Bernstein--
670TheScore.com senior columnist

(670 The Score)​ If you are a baseball fan, steel yourself for some radical changes. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is on the warpath in his quest to trim the times of games in the battle to keep the focus of dwindling attention spans, and he has reached the threshold of implementation.

New rules are in effect for the affiliated minor leagues as of this season, including a 15-second pitch clock with the bases empty and a runner placed on second base to begin every extra half-inning.

Ignore for the moment the truth that baseball's real problem is a lack of action within the game itself and not really the total length of time spent watching -- it's baseball needing more than strikeouts and home runs to be interesting -- and imagine the new strategies coming in the period of what's referred to cutely as "free baseball."

As Manfred tries to pare away the bonus entertainment, extras could devolve into a different kind of slog of intentional walks, bunts and more pitching changes to optimize matchups. The stat wonks will quickly determine the ranges of probabilities and work around the margins of win expectancy, likely just substituting new perfunctory moves that make for less than the kind of quick and compelling competition currently envisioned.

The pitch clock will cause howls, too, as managers argue for more decision-making time and the pitchers warn of increased injury risk from being hurried to throw.

But after pushing and pulling with the players' association for years over the speed-of-game issues, MLB is now in a position to begin unilateral imposition of such initiatives if it cares little about incurring union wrath. Manfred just might do it, too, unless the mere threat of it becomes something to horse-trade in larger negotiations.

Regardless, his quixotic fixation on shortening the overall length of games appears likely to manifest itself soon in some kind of notable tinkering with what we now have.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and Goff Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.

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