Major League Baseball players are about to tell commissioner Rob Manfred that they vehemently hate the idea of a pitch clock. Manfred is going respond by saying, “Too bad.”
As expected, the players are once again going to reject Manfred’s pace of play initiatives, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Manfred made it clear last year that he had the power to unilaterally make pace of play changes whether or not the players agreed to them. While he didn’t act on that in 2017, he’s expected to use his power to force pitch clocks on the league in 2018.
The players know this, of course, so their decision to strongly oppose the idea is partially seen as a PR move. The players do have some legitimate concerns about pitch clocks, but they also believe fans are against the move.
By making Manfred use his power, the players believe fans will be furious with him, not them. They think they can win some goodwill by making this stand.
It’s tough to predict whether that gambit will pay off. Baseball fans are generally opposed to change, but this doesn’t seem to be a contentious issue. The games are getting longer, and that’s a major barrier of entry for many. The issues raised by Manfred — pitch clocks and limited mound visits — will make the game move faster while not drastically altering the on-field product. That sounds like something most fans will get behind.
It’s also possible that this is more about the players sending a message to the commissioner. As our own Jeff Passan laid out, this winter’s free-agent market has created a large divide between the players and the league.
Given the slow market this winter, the players may feel as though they have to fight tooth and nail over every little thing from now until the collective-bargaining agreement is up in Dec. 2021.
At that point, the players will have made it clear to Manfred they are prepared for all-out war.
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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik