World Series: Commissioner Rob Manfred says 7-hour clash ‘a great game,’ open to rule change
LOS ANGELES — Major League Baseball was gifted with what might be called its greatest blessing and curse with the record-setting Game 3 of the World Series.
To the baseball junkie, 7 hours, 20 minutes of taut, championship baseball is hardball heaven. To the casual fan and the cadre of observers who hold the modern game in some disregard, it was Exhibit A for a sport gone bad.
Commissioner Rob Manfred, not surprisingly, is in the first group, determined to remember the Los Angeles Dodgers, 18-inning, 3-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox as a classic, not a conundrum.
That doesn't mean he's not open to tweaking the game in the future.
Manfred said he remains open to the concept of starting a runner at second base during extra inning games – but only during the regular season. He stressed that he does not envision such a move during playoff games – but says a regular season experiment with the rule during minor league games "worked well."
"I don’t think we’re quite ready for it, but it’s something I’d be open to," Manfred said before Saturday's Game 4. "But I want to be clear about this: We’re not thinking about doing anything about changing the way games or played, either regular season or postseason in terms of that rule.
"It’s out there, it’s used in the minor leagues, I’m aware of it, but it’s not under active consideration."
Game play issues are among many that will receive a vigorous look in the run-up to – and even before – the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement in 2021. For now, MLB is trying to enjoy what's emerging as an epic World Series against storied, big-market franchises.
But Fox's ratings for Game 3 were down about 10% from 2017's Game 3 featuring the Dodgers and Houston Astros, maintaining a trend established in Game 2.
Nonetheless, Manfred refuses to believe Friday's marathon was bad for the game.
"It’s one of those things you can’t allow people to turn into a negative," he said. "It was a great game, a unique game, and it’s one of those things that generates a tremendous amount of buzz and makes our game so much more remarkable."
Even if it takes more than seven hours – although, given the 18 innings, the extra time allotted for commercials and the gallant performance of Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who pitched six innings of one-run relief before allowing Max Muncy's game-winning home run – it could have been much longer.
"I don’t think of it as a seven-hour ask," Manfred says. "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!"
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