Shorter games are great; expansion? Not so much

Major League Baseball has claimed victory in its war excruciatingly long, tedious games.

Commissioner Rob Manfred reports that the average time for a nine-inning game has fallen 26 minutes, coming in at 2 hours, 38 minutes.

MLB Players Association chief Tony Clark is hopeful that a few seconds be added for the post-season. After all, no one wants to see a team eliminated by a timing violation.

Preventing that should be simple: 

Batters, get in the box. 

Pitchers, throw the ball.

Problem solved.

Post-season games are already subject to being decided on something less exhilarating than a walk-off home run. Is ending a team’s season on a balk, or a bases-loaded walk, or a bases-loaded hit batsman, batted ball hitting a baserunner somehow more just than losing via a pitch clock?

Manfred said there is no plan to use an automated ball-strike system. It’s more likely that a challenge system would be adopted. Either way, it is one more step away from the human element. 

Can an ABS system be programmed to growl or eject someone who kicks dirt on it?

The most exasperating news Manfred made at his All Star Game State of the Big Leagues press conference is that expansion is likely to come after the A’s have navigated all roadblocks on their way to Las Vegas and the Rays can reach a deal to have a new ballpark built in St. Petersburg.

Since the Rays and the political honchos in the Tampa Bay region have been mumbling about a new ballpark since the team’s inception it would be fairly remarkable to see something happen quickly.

And the A’s have lots  more hoops to jump through before they land in Vegas.

Expansion would also mean revenue distribution would be split 32 ways instead of 30. May greed win out so that the already diluted pool of big-league pitchers will become more shallow.

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