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There is no truth to the rumor that Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley faked his death to assume the identity of Rob Manfred and eventually become the tenth Commissioner of Major League Baseball. [Or is there? — hmmm… Manfred? Man in the Box? bad teeth? — think about it.]
After taking office less than a month ago, new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced significant rule changes today to address the pace-of-play issues that have added up over the last few decades and dragged to a halt an already sluggish game.  Games that once averaged 2 hours and 30 minutes back in the ’80s now average over 3 hours for myriad reasons, most of which simply involve annoying habits by hitters, pitchers, managers, and umps alike.  So Manfred said enough of this bullshit and I applaud him for not fucking around.

The new rules:

  1. Managers must challenge replays from dugout.
  2. Batters must keep one foot in box.
  3. Play to resume promptly once broadcast returns from commercial break.
  4. Timed pitching changes.

“The most fundamental starting point for improving the pace of the average game involves getting into and out of breaks seamlessly. In addition, the batter’s box rule will help speed up a basic action of the game” said Manfred, who could be Layne Staley’s doppelganger.

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Could Manfred actually be a 57-year old Staley? Birth records indicate a nine-year difference between the two, but if he could fake his death it seems that he could fake his birth. Hmmm…

 

But I believe the the Man in the Box rule will have the more significant impact simply because of it’s frequency, affecting virtually every pitch.  The time saved will be enormous when eliminating all that is wasted by dudes just walking around, adjusting themselves, inspecting their bats for termites, or whatever other weird habits they’ve developed to get themselves ready for the next pitch.

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Shove my nose in spit [radio edit]
The only part I don’t like is how these new rules are reportedly going to be enforced.  Violators will first be warned, then “flagrant violators” will be subject to a series of fines up to [gasp!] $500.  I’m not sure how those meager deterrents — basically finger wagging and whining ‘stop it‘ — will have any effect on multi-millionaires who cherish routine.

But who knows? Maybe peer pressure and informed heckling will eventually sway chronic offenders like David Ortiz from performing their ridiculous rituals before every fucking pitch.

Regardless, it’s a step in the right direction and a good sign that Manfred isn’t worried about taking shit from baseball ‘purists’ who might be reluctant to accept change of any kind. To stretch another early ’90s metal reference, Manfred is essentially paraphrasing Riki Rachtman from Headbanger’s Ball: “Keep one foot in the box and one fist in the gold.”

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