Rob Manfred hints at auto-runner plans, stadium futures for Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed some notable topics during an interview on Friday with SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio channel, including the likelihood of the automatic runner being part of the game in extra innings, and the future homes of the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics.

One of the topics that touched Chris Russo is the automatic runner, which Manfred believes will continue to be part of the rulebook on the way. That rule states, for those who don’t know, that teams start every half inning after the ninth with a runner on second base, an extra runner who ostensibly helps end a game earlier, leading to fewer marathon games and less exhausted pitching staff.

“The clubs like it, the players like it. And I think the fans generally like it,” Manfred said, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “I think it kind of brings focus to the end of the baseball game in a way that has been positively received.”

Whether or not Manfred is right in his assessment of the popularity of the automatic runner is irrelevant. He is right when he states that games end earlier because of this.

Note that while there were 350 instances this season where a team threw at least 10 innings in a game this season, there was only one instance where a team crossed the 15 innings threshold. In comparison, in 2012, there were 341 instances where more than 10 innings were pitched, with 17 teams pitching at least 15 innings.

Manfred also provided an update on the efforts for a new stadium in both the Tampa Bay and Oakland markets. He expressed confidence that the Rays can come up with something to stay in the region. He wasn’t so kind to the A’s chances.

“I think the A’s have been cautious about exploring the alternative in Las Vegas given the lack of pace in Oakland,” Manfred said, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “I think they should look for an alternative. I see Tampa differently.”

Of course, Manfred’s comments about all stadium-related ventures should be taken with a grain of salt, as part of his job involves putting public pressure on municipalities.

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