No big rules changes in 2017; Rob Manfred blames the union’s “lack of cooperation”

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There have been a number of possible rules changes discussed this offseason, most of which would be aimed at speeding up the pace of play. Automatic intentional walks and pitch clocks have been mentioned. Limiting trips to the mound. Some more radical experiments have been suggested as well.

All of the ideas about potential rules changes have started with the league and ownership. They were then informally vetted through columns from well-connected columnists, all of which portrayed them as feasible and not insane, even though some of them are a bit out there. Of course, any substantive rules changes have to be agreed to by the union, so the mere fact of the league’s mentioning a change and pushing it on to their sources in the media does not mean they are a done deal or even close to a done deal.

Rob Manfred would prefer you not be reminded of that, however. He’d prefer that you think of these changes as all-but-implemented before the evil Players Union swooped in to ruin things. I mean, how else is one to take this:

The “lack of cooperation” spin is subtle, but significant. He wants to portray the MLBPA as intransigent — as kids stomping their feet — not as an equal partner in the process of rule making. He wants to make every single complaint about a long game or a slowly-played game an indictment of the players, not a product of many decisions and priorities, most of which are league and club priorities, not player priorities. Things like start times for games and commercial break length and in-game entertainment and advertisements and what have you. Nope, it’s all the players.

Maybe — and hear me out — the rules changes proposed by the league were dumb? Maybe players have every right to say so and to weigh in on the terms of their employment? Maybe they don’t like being dictated to like the league has appeared to be doing and they don’t like to have to answer questions from reporters based on an agenda set on Park Avenue as opposed to in their own clubhouse. Could Manfred not know this?

Hahaha, of course knows all of this. He is an expert when it comes to collective bargaining and labor relations so he knows perfectly well that the players have a say on these things. But he also knows full well that it’s in MLB’s best interest to have fans think that the players are spoiled babies who whine about not getting their way. And his comments here are calculated to create that impression among baseball fans.

 

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.

 

Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig had a brutal collision in right center field

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The score was tied in the top of the 10th inning in last night’s game between the Dodgers and the Cardinals. Yadier Molina was up to bat, facing Kenley Jansen and drove one to deep right center field.

Yasiel Puig was in full run for the ball as center fielder Joc Pederson ranged hard for it himself. Puig caught the ball, but not before slamming into Pederson. Both men went down, but Pederson went down harder, taking an elbow to the face from Puig before crashing head-first into the outfield wall.

Watch:

 

Pederson came out of the game, apparently bleeding from his head. There will be an update on his condition today.

UPDATE: Oops, there was an update last night: