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Manfred: MLB pace changes will happen with or without union

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says rule changes to speed games will be put in place next year with or without an agreement with the players’ association.

Major League Baseball proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, limits in trips to the mound by catchers and raising the bottom of the strike zone. The union did not agree, and management has the right to impose them unilaterally for 2018.

Speaking Thursday after a quarterly owners’ meeting, Manfred says “my preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can’t get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other.”

Manfred anticipates a new posting system with Japan to be in place soon. He is not yet ready to speak about expanded protective netting in ballparks next season.

After a record 6,105 home runs this season, he says MLB will discuss studies of baseballs later in the offseason. MLB says the balls are within specifications.

More MLB baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Tony Clark: Universal DH ‘gaining momentum’ among players

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Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark met the press late this morning and covered a wide array of topics.

One of them: free agency, which he referred to as being “under attack” based on the slow market for free agents last offseason.

“What the players saw last offseason was that their free-agent rights were under attack on what has been the bedrock of our system,” Clark said. He added that they “have some very difficult decisions to make.” Presumably in the form of grievances and, down the road, a negotiating strategy that seeks to claw back some of the many concessions the union has given owners in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. CBAs, it’s worth noting, that Clark negotiated. We’ve covered that territory in detail in the past.

Of more immediate interest was Clark’s comment that the idea of a universal designated hitter is, among players, “gaining momentum.” Clark says “players are talking about it more than they have in the past.” We’ve talked a lot about that as well.

Given that hating or loving the DH is the closest thing baseball has to a religion, no one’s mind is going to be changed by any of this, but I think, practically speaking, it’s inevitable that the National League will have the DH and I think it happens relatively soon. Perhaps in the next five years. The opposition to it at this point is solely subjective and based on tradition. People like pitchers batting and they like double switches and they like the leagues being different because they, well, like it. If the system were being set up today, however, they’d never have it this way and I think even the DH-haters know that well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike a universal DH, but it does mean that you can’t expect the people who run the game to cater to that preference when it makes little sense for them to do it for their own purposes.

Anyway, enjoy convincing each other in the comments about how the side of that argument you dislike is wrong.