NEW YORK (AP) – Even talks to speed the pace of Major League Baseball games are going slowly.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said management will speak some more with the players’ association before deciding whether to push ahead with initiatives to speed games in 2018.
The average time of a nine-inning game is a record 3 hours, 5 minutes this season, up from 3 hours last year and 2:56 in 2015, Manfred’s first season as commissioner.
“We’ve probably gone backwards a little bit,” Manfred said Thursday after an owners’ meeting.
MLB made proposals last offseason that players refused to accept for 2017, but management can unilaterally implement them for 2018. They include a pitch clock, limits on visits to the pitcher’s mound by catchers and restoring the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap.
Union head Tony Clark and his members agreed only to one of the proposed changes for 2017: pitchless intentional walks.
“We’ve had extensive conversations with Tony about a process for putting a series of meetings together to try to advance the ball on the pace-of-game issues,” Manfred said. “We remain committed to the idea … there are things that can be done to try to improve on the pace-of-game topic. And we will continue to purse that agenda with Tony over the course of the season.”
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