Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred addressed several notable topics during an interview on Friday with SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio channel, including the likelihood of the automatic runner in extra innings remaining part of the game, and the future homes of the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics.
Among the topics hit with Chris Russo is the automatic runner, which Manfred belives may remain part of the rulebook heading forward. That rule, for those unaware, stipulates that teams begin each half inning after the ninth with a runner on second base, an extra base runner that ostensibly helps bring about the end of a game sooner, thereby leading to fewer marathon contests and fewer exhausted pitching staffs.
'The clubs like it, the players like it. And I think overall the fans like it," Manfred said, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "I think it does bring sort of a focus to the end of the baseball game in a way that has been positively received."
Whether or not Manfred is correct in his assessment about the popularity of the automatic runner is beside the point. He is correct in his assertion that games tend to end earlier as a result.
Consider that, while there were 350 instances of a team throwing at least 10 innings in a game this season, there was just one case where a team cleared the 15-inning threshold. Back in 2012, for comparison, there were 341 instances of 10-plus innings pitched, with 17 teams throwing at least 15 innings.
Manfred also offered an update on the efforts for a new stadium in both the Tampa Bay and Oakland markets. He voiced his confidence that the Rays will be able to work out something to remain in the region. He wasn't as sweet on the A's chances.
"I think the A's have proceeded prudently in terms of exploring the Las Vegas alternative, given the lack of pace in Oakland," Manfred said, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. "I think they have to look for an alternative. I see Tampa differently."
Of course, Manfred's comments on any and all stadium-related ventures should be taken with a grain of salt given that part of his job entails applying public pressure to municipalities.