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Rob Manfred still wants to improve pace of play

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MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has his eye on the pitch clock again. During the Owners Meetings on Friday, Manfred talked at length about his desire to improve the pace of play, citing the need for an “ongoing effort” to shorten games in order to make them more appealing to fans.

Per MLB.com’s Paul Hagen, that could mean the resurfacing of the pitch clock, which limits pitchers to a 20-second delivery window. It’s a method that has only been experimented with in the minor leagues so far, shortening games by as many as 16 minutes. Despite its effectiveness, there have been many arguments against implementing the pitch clock on a big league-level. It has the potential to be overly distracting, both to players and to crowds. Some players think it could rush the hitter or negatively affect a pitcher’s arm, while others think it affords pitchers an excessive amount of time to deliver a pitch. Still others, both players and fans, don’t see anything wrong with a more leisurely pace of play — even the kind that breeds four-hour, 32-minute NLDS-clinching marathons.

Nothing looks close to being agreed upon at this point, though discussions between the owners and players’ association are ongoing. Manfred suggested that there may be multiple approaches to the issue, which is one he feels that “players, owner, umpires — everyone who is invested in this game” should be concerned with. Whether or not he receives the kind of collaboration and compromise he’s seeking remains to be seen.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.