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Rob Manfred: MLB Rule Changes 'About Giving Fans the Kind of Game They Want to See'

Erin WalshSeptember 9, 2022

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

On Friday, Major League Baseball implemented a number of rule changes set to begin in 2023, and Commissioner Rob Manfred explained that the decision to do so stemmed from wanting to do right by the fans.

"Itโ€™s hard to get consensus among a group of players on changing the game. โ€ฆ What we did here was about giving fans the kind of game they want to see," Manfred said Friday, per The Athletic's Evan Drellich.

Among other changes, MLB is set to implement a pitch clock next season, ban defensive shifts and make the bases slightly larger. The pitch clock will last 15 seconds with empty bases and 20 seconds with runners on base.

The pitch clock was tested in the minor leagues, and it has accelerated the speed of games this year. Minor league games "have consistently clocked in at under 2 hours, 30 minutes," which is considered ideal, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.

During the 2021 regular season, the length of an MLB game was 3 hours, 10 minutes, 7 seconds. The pace of play has been an issue among a number of fans clamoring for games to be shorter.

Some of the changes implemented will likely allow the pace of play to be quicker.

The four players on the competition committee, which is also composed of six ownership-level representatives and one umpire, voted against the rule changes, however.

The MLB Players Association said in a statement, per Passan:

"Player leaders from across the league were engaged in on-field rules negotiations through the Competition Committee, and they provided specific and actionable feedback on the changes proposed by the Commissioner's Office. Major League Baseball was unwilling to meaningfully address the areas of concern that Players raised, and, as a result, Players on the Competition Committee voted unanimously against the implementation of the rules covering defensive shifts and use of pitch timer."

According to the league's research (h/t USA Today's Bob Nightengale), fans want to see more stolen bases, triples, doubles and better defensive plays. It's no surprise the changes were passed despite pushback from players.

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