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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.

Joe Maddon: “I have a defensive foot fetish.”

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The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.

Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.

Well then.

The Nationals have scored 62 runs during four Joe Ross starts

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If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.

Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.

Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.

Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.