MLB Commissioner Talks About the Future of the Sport with a S.A. Audience

On the eve of tomorrow's start of the 2018 Major League Baseball season, Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred told an 'IBC San Antonio Conversations' event at the Witte Museum that he is committed to keeping baseball popular without damaging the inherent appeal of the sport, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Manfred has been batting around several ideas for speeding up the game, to make it more popular for young people who are gravitating to the faster pace of sports like basketball.

"Nobody really loves the point in the game where nothing is happening," Manfred told the San Antonio audience.

He expects to see several small but significant changes to be made in the big leagues in the coming years, including one that is already being used in the minors. That would be a 'pitch clock' which would require the pitcher to throw the ball within a prescribed period.

"I think that ultimately, you probably are looking at a pitch clock that will be in the neighborhood of fifteen seconds," he said.

He says there will be exceptions made to that clock rule, which he says is working well in the minors.

Manfred also expected to institute a limit of on the number of visits a manager can make to the mound to talk to the pitcher, and will also cut the gap between half innings to no more than 2:05.

Manfred said one very controversial change that he will not implement will be starting extra innings with a runner on second base.  He says that is being used in the minor leagues, but the minor leagUes are different in that the goal of the minors at the end of the day is not to win games, but to develop players for the majors.

The Commissioner said baseball is doing well with the public, and is ready to compete in the 21st century.He said big league attendance is holding steady at about 72 million per year, minor league attendance is growing.

He says more and more people are 'engaging' with baseball on platforms like radio and TV, to Facebook and Twitter, which recently signed high dollars deals to run big league games.

He says there is one thing that MLB is doing successfully which is the most important way to keep fans of all ages engaged, and that is to make sure the games are competitive.

"Over the last decade, 27 or our 30 teams have been in the players,  and the last 17 years, we've had 12 different World Series winners."

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