There are no immediate plans to tweak the length of MLB games, league commissioner Rob Manfred said Saturday. Even as television ratings for World Series Games 1-3 dropped to a four-year low, Manfred refused to assign blame to Game 3’s 18-inning slog or suggest that more stringent measures be put in place to prevent games from stretching past a certain length.
Via Gabe Lacques of USA Today:
I don’t think of it as a seven-hour ask,” Manfred said. “Nobody knows, going into the game, that we’re going to play 18 innings. The fact of the matter is, we recognize that it’s helpful to provide as crisp a game as possible, with as little downtime as possible, but I don’t think you can wring your hands over playing a seven-hour game in the World Series that turned out to be a great game. It’s one game!
Manfred also addressed the minor-league rule that allows each team to begin extra innings with a runner on second base. While such a drastic measure isn’t under active consideration in the majors just yet, that isn’t to say it’ll remain off the table indefinitely.
For now, however, Game 3 and its unprecedented seven-hour, 20-minute pace remains an anomaly — and one that’s unlikely to spark significant change in either the regular season or postseason. By comparison, Games 1 and 2 of the Fall Classic hovered between three and four hours long, while the average time of regular season games hasn’t strayed far from the three-hour mark in the last seven years. There was just a four-minute decrease between the three-hour, eight-minute average of 2017 games and the three-hour, four-minute average of 2018 games.
Manfred spoke specifically to playoff games on Saturday, stressing that any fundamental rule changes would conflict with the “long tradition of playing your games out in the World Series.” While he’s often been at the forefront of pace-of-play initiatives over the last year, this is a tradition he’s bound to respect, at least for the time being.