February 25, 2018

Olney: MLB Should Reduce Games To Seven Innings (I Think He's Serious)

Buster Olney makes a lot of sense in his latest ESPN column, but then he goes utterly off the rails, with no explanation or follow-up:
Commissioner Rob Manfred should propose that the players select and build their own committee to shape initiatives that reduce the average time of games.

The composition of that committee could be determined entirely by the union. ...

The players would have the power to design rules acceptable for them, rather than have unwanted regulations foisted on them.

But that won't happen because the relationship between the union and Major League Baseball is probably at its worst since the 2002 season. The spirit of cooperation that had evolved is now just about dead ... The players are furious about how free agency has played out, they are furious about the current economics of the game, and their solution is intransigence. ...

Manfred had the power to implement any change he wanted in the pace-of-play rules, but he didn't, because he knows the players are mad, and he didn't want to pick a summer-long fight. Instead, he went with a much more modest proposal ...

Privately, a lot of players think the new regulations are a joke ...
The players should be part of the process, but Manfred's tenure as commissioner has been like acid corroding the relationship between management and the union. So far, so good.

But then:
The disconnect seems so enormous that a negotiated, collaborative solution seems completely out of the question. If MLB wants to effect serious change – if it truly wants to reduce the game to an NBA-like 2 hours, 30 minutes – it should seriously consider pushing for a reduction of games from nine to seven innings.
Seven-inning games!

What can you say to that? Frankly, it's not even worth considering a response beyond "Are you out of your fucking mind?" because the suggestion is asinine. But after putting forth that incredibly radical idea, Olney simply moves on. He doesn't say anything else about it. Nothing.

Why is Olney saying that MLB should "seriously consider" lopping off two innings from every game? Does he believe playing games of only seven innings* is a reasonable solution to the length-of-game "problem" (even though Manfred's recent proposals concern "pace of play", which, while it affects the length of games, is a different matter)?

*: The games of minor league doubleheaders are seven innings, but that seems irrelevant when you are thinking of such a monumental change. Why not cut games back to six innings? Linescores would look tidier. Complete games would make a comeback, which would please some people. ... Hey, why not have only one inning, but have nine outs per side?

Now I am wondering if this is something MLB is actually considering. I never thought I'd say this, but Rob Manfred is well on his way to making us wistful for the days of Bud Selig.


Jim Goodale said...

Where did this this "NBA-like 2 hours and 30 minutes" come from? Like they're going to go back to 1-minute breaks between 1/2 innings and the guys "hustle in and hustle out"? Manfred is definitely as bad as Bud. He's got to be the only CEO of a multi-billion dollar industry who's job description is "don't change a thing and still continue to squeeze every dime out of the paying customers".

FenFan said...

Seven innings? What is this, the company softball league?