Major League Baseball has released its latest pitch to accelerate pace of play, with the proposals including bullpen carts and deferment of a pitch clock.
Recently, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred floated several concepts intended to speed up the average time of games, suggesting the institution of a pitch clock and a limit the number of per-game on mound visits. However, those concepts were met with opposition from the MLB Players Association. MLB has discussed similar ideas in the past, but Manfred now has the power to make changes unilaterally under the latest collective bargaining agreement.
On Thursday, Manfred revealed that MLB is willing to defer the use of the pitch clock for 2018 and incorporate several other changes based on feedback from the players union. Under the latest proposal, the pitch clock would not be used for 2018, but could be implemented for 2019 if the average time of 2018 games does not clock in below two hours and 55 minutes. If the average game time is below that threshold in 2018, pitch clocks would be deferred to 2020, but the league would seek to improve the average game time to two hours and 50 minutes in 2019.
In addition, the league would allow the use of bullpen carts ( whether or not a cart would actually affect pace of play is debatable, but we give the players point for some needed whimsy), and impose guidelines for time frames for commercial breaks on local, national, and postseason television broadcasts. The proposal was not attached to a specific deadline for acceptance from the union, but Manfred emphasized the importance of moving forward with a plan before spring training begins. More from ESPN:
Major League Baseball’s latest proposal to the union was not accompanied by a specific deadline for acceptance, but Manfred stated the obvious to reporters Thursday: With the start of spring training looming, MLB needs to determine a course of action soon for the upcoming season.
Some club executives and agents believe the discussions around pace-of-play have been affected by the sluggish winter market for free agents. More than 100 veteran players remain unsigned, with individual players constantly trading unhappy texts and phone calls with peers about the union’s current context.
“As we sit here today, the first week of February, our focus is on the 100+ Free Agents still available,” said Tony Clark, executive director of the Players Association. “Players and the PA remain committed to the competitive integrity of the game on all fronts, including on field rules.”
The proposal also contains several other stipulations. While MLB would hold off on issuing ball-strike penalties for violations of time limits for pitchers to warm up and hitters to approach the plate in 2018, the league has kept its request to impose a limit of six mound visits per game. Should the union agree to a pace of play initiative, MLB would remove its request for a between-batter timer.
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