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Rob Manfred wants to boost pace of play with shorter commercial breaks

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As part of his attempts to curb the “dead time” that unnecessarily lengthens baseball games, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that long commercial breaks could be the next thing to go. Shortening commercial breaks wouldn’t be as easy as eliminating the four-pitch walk or even installing pitch clocks in major league ballparks; as Manfred relayed to Forbes’ Maury Brown, there are “contractural limitations” that would prevent the league from cutting down on ads too much between innings.

Still, it’s an interesting idea, and one that’s more palatable than the myriad ways Manfred has suggested tampering with the game itself. According to Brown’s report, Red Sox’ owner Tom Werner is also in favor of the idea, though neither he nor Manfred have devised any concrete ways to shorten commercial breaks without taking a hit in revenue first. Tony Clark, head of the Players Association, reminds the league that any measures taken to shorten games have to benefit the players first, including those who might need the extra time to warm up during pitching changes and inning breaks (via the Boston Herald’s Evan Drellich):

Of more pressing concern is how the league would compensate for lost ad revenue. Brown, among others, suggests that shorter commercial breaks could force teams to install advertisements in the parks themselves or add sponsored logos to players’ uniforms. Neither option seems ideal, but the added distractions could be worth the trade-off of shorter television commercials — at least for the fans watching at home, if no one else.

The driving force behind this proposed change is Manfred’s desire to streamline the average baseball game. He said that while he’s not focused on cutting down the length of games, he wants to ensure that each minute is action-packed, while the “dead periods” between balls put in play get reduced as much as is reasonable. At least on the television front, however, any significant changes to MLB’s regularly scheduled programming are likely still several years away.

Umpire ejects Adrian Beltre for moving on-deck circle

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As far as ejections go, this is one of the stranger ones you’ll hear about. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game his team trailed at the time 18-6. Beltre was a few feet away from the circle towards home plate and was asked by Marlins pitcher Drew Steckenrider to get into the circle. So rather than step a few feet back to his right, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it to where he was. And that got him ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis. Manager Jeff Banister was also ejected after having a word with Davis.

Here’s a video from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Beltre, by the way, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a solo home run. He’s now four hits away from 3,000 for his career.

Video: Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford hits an inside-the-park grand slam

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Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford’s stock has fallen sharply this season. He had an abysmal first three months, batting .203/.321/.276 in 291 plate appearances. Baseball America rated him the 12th overall prospect in baseball going into the season and rated him No. 92 in their midseason top 100. It was bad.

Since the calendar turned to July, however, Crawford has been more like his normal self. In 92 at-bats this month entering Wednesday night’s action, he was hitting .300/.391/.650 with six home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a terrific 15/12 K/BB ratio.

Crawford padded his stats more on Wednesday night as he circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Via the IronPigs Twitter:

Crawford was actually dead-to-rights at home, but he fooled the catcher with a great late slide.

Crawford finished 1-for-3 with a walk along with the slam on the night as the IronPigs beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-2.