It’s the cockroaches in the kitchen pantry that keep returning, or the neighbor’s barking dog that wakes you up in the wee hours of the morning.
The most aggravating irritation in Commissioner Rob Manfred’s life these days is solving baseball’s slow pace of play.
The average time of a nine-inning game lasted three hours last season, an increase of four minutes from 2015, despite the implementation of rules to speed up the game. It took a record 4 hours, 32 minutes for the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers just to complete Game 5 of the National League Division Series last season.
He still would love to have a pitch clock, and hopes to impose rules changes to reduce the game times. There were new rule changes in the new collective bargaining agreement, but there’s a provision that allows the two sides to negotiate changes.
“I will say that pace of play is an issue that we need to be focused on,’’ Manfred said. “And the ‘we’ there is players, owners, umpires …everyone who is invested in this game.
“I don’t think there’s a magic bullet that is going to come one year and that’s going to be the solution to pace of play. It’s going to be an ongoing effort to make sure our game moves along in the way in the way that is most attractive to our fans.”
The players union has steadfastly opposed a pitch clock at the major-league level, but Manfred still believes it’s vital to baseball’s future that game times are shortened.
“Sometimes resistance is a product of how long a negotiation takes,’’ Manfred said, “there are various factors that play into it. I think our players understand the importance of making our game as appealing as possible to our fans.”
The owners believe that it’s imperative to shorten games to enhance attendance at their ballparks.
“Look, Rob would be the first one to tell you,’’ Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said, “it’s something we’re focusing on. It’s a concern or else we wouldn’t be talking about this. And we’re talking about this every three months [at the quarterly owners’ meetings].
“I think everybody agrees that whatever we can do to make the experience better for the fans is something we need to look into. If a shorter game, even by minutes, is better, then that’s something worth merit.
“There’s clearly things to explore, and work to be done, and that’s what Rob is doing.’’