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September 2017 // Archive

Date based archive
10 Sep

What happens on the mound has more to do with the mind than the arm.



The Major League Baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, will never be mistaken for a rebel. He’s a 58-year-old Harvard Law School grad who clerked for a U.S. district judge appointed by Richard Nixon; became a partner at the lofty Philadelphia law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and made his name in the league negotiating collective-bargaining agreements and investigating the Biogenesis doping scandal of 2013. The guy even wears a tie when he throws out the first pitch at games.

Yet as Manfred enters his third year as commissioner, no one should underestimate just how much of a baseball radical he is. Since taking over in 2015, Manfred has imposed new strictures on the use of instant replay, banished chewing tobacco from the field for new players, abolished the decade-and-a-half-old rule that the All-Star Game decides home-field advantage at the World Series, and now inaugurated the no-pitch intentional walk. But his most explosive ideas are yet to come. Manfred has floated the notion of limiting defensive shifts and the number of pitching changes a team can make, altering the strike zone, and shortening the season. He has even said that he’d consider, when a game reaches extra innings, automatically putting a runner on second base. (The rookie leagues are doing just that this year.)