Rob Manfred
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Rob Manfred: “We don’t really expect that we’re ever going to [start extra innings with a runner on second base] at the major league level.”

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Last week, we learned that Major League Baseball planned to test in the lowest levels of the minor league a new rule for extra innings: starting each inning with a runner on second base. Chief baseball officer Joe Torre seemed to be enthusiastic about the idea.

However, when the idea was publicized last week, it was roundly mocked. Anecdotally, I didn’t see anyone in full-fledged support of the idea. Those that were open to it were doing so in a more “crane your neck to look at the car wreck” kind of way.

Having absorbed a week’s worth of criticism over the idea, Rob Manfred spoke today and backtracked a bit on the idea, suggesting that he doesn’t expect the rule to ever be implemented in the majors. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

There’s special purpose rules. Like pitch counts in the WBC or starting the 10th inning with a runner on base. What do I mean by “special purpose rule”? These rules or rule changes are designed to serve a purpose in some narrow settings and we don’t really expect that we’re ever going to apply them at the major league level, at least in the short term. In rookie ball where crowds are small, games are really developmental, starting the 10th inning with a runner on base makes sense because there’s really no developmental reason to play 18 innings and end with a shortstop pitching. And who knows, if we remain open-minded, we may learn something from this experiment that’s helpful moving forward.

In the end, though, baseball’s efforts to speed the game up miss the biggest offender: pitching changes. Finding a way to limit the down time between them, or limiting the amount of them that a manager can make would go a long way towards improving the pace of play.

Nationals’ Strasburg ejected for arguing from the stands

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — A pitcher getting ejected for arguing balls and strikes – on his day off? And, from the stands?

Nationals star Stephen Strasburg earned one of baseball’s most unique ejections – probably ever – in the third inning of Washington’s game against the New York Mets on Thursday.

Strasburg was sitting in Section 121 at Citi Field in this socially distant season because he’s scheduled to start Friday against Baltimore Orioles. He was apparently unhappy with the strike zone of plate umpire Carlos Torres after Austin Voth‘s 2-2 pitch to Pete Alonso on the outside corner was ruled a ball.

Moments later, Torres ejected last year’s World Series MVP, though it took a few seconds to realize who had been tossed.

Someone was heard yelling: “You’re (expletive) brutal” shortly before television cameras captured Strasburg doffing his cap as he walked up the staircase on his way out of the park.

“Sorry, folks – sorry, FCC,” Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen said on SNY.

The usually stoic Strasburg appeared to be grinning underneath his blue mask as he made his exit.