Some random thoughts about four-hour playoff games, the All-Star Game's link to home-field advantage, the Chicago Cubs' outfield situation and more:
Commissioner Rob Manfred not concerned about four-hour playoff games but he should be
I interviewed Manfred prior to Game 2 earlier this week and was genuinely taken aback when he downplayed the issue of pace of play and length of many of the games this postseason.
Manfred and I have been friends for a long time, having shared arbitration cases and owners/GM meetings for decades. I have great respect for him, and I think he'll go down in history as one of the game's best commissioners because of his progressiveness, professionalism and integrity. But on this particular issue, I'm in complete disagreement. Sure, some of these playoff games have been phenomenally entertaining games, but something must change, and fast (i.e., by the next collective bargaining agreement in December). MLB is trying to grow the game among today's youth, but these games don't help.
Not every fan hates the long games; Cubs and Indians fans likely don't mind it, and die-hard fans can stay locked in. But to expand the game's fan base, it will have to reduce game times and improve the pace of play. Baseball is not only losing its audience, it's not attracting more fans because of the snail's pace.
I understand managers manage games differently in the postseason because of the sense of urgency -- not as worried about days of rest between starts, overusing relievers, etc. -- but the length-of-game issue is not just about postseason games, it's regular-season games as well. It just tends to get exaggerated in the postseason. The simple fact that it's within the rules to make six pitching changes, 12 visits by the catcher and another four visits by the pitching coach, along with a pitcher working at a ridiculously slow pace, indicates to me that the present rules don't work.
So here is what baseball needs to do beginning in 2017, not just for the postseason but for all games: