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Elephant Rumblings: Historic rule changes could be Manfred’s legacy

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World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Happy Wednesday, Athletics Nation!

We’re all big fans of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred around here, right?

No, you say?

My bad.

Most of us see Manfred as a servant of greedy club owners who assail players’ interests through hardball tactics like the 2021-22 lockout that left us wondering if we’d even get a full season last year. Neither did The Commish generate a lot of goodwill when he essentially let the Astros off the hook for technology-assisted sign stealing during Houston’s 2017 championship season.

More importantly to us A’s fans, he’s seen as an ally of John Fisher, willing to pressure and bully the City of Oakland with relocation threats to help the A’s owner extract as much taxpayer money as possible to build a shiny new stadium in Oakland.

But in the wake of sweeping changes to the game that seem to be widely viewed as positive, Brittany Ghiroli at The Athletic suggests that Manfred may deserve a some credit for his role in the transformation. Ghiroli mentions that multiple people she knows who never showed interest in baseball are suddenly talking about the game with its faster pace and increased traffic on the basepaths.

Baseball is deeply rooted in tradition. The pitch clock, most easily felt among the new changes, had been years in the making and overcame a lot of resistance to become the order of the day. This process has unfolded under Manfred’s watch: he approved the pitch clock for the Arizona Fall League back in 2015.

Despite our misgivings about Manfred, if this more action-packed version of baseball revives interest in the sport, perhaps we should give credit where it is due. Personally, if the A’s pack up and move to Las Vegas, I will never forgive Manfred for his role in it. But if the A’s remain in Oakland, who knows? Years from now I might remember Manfred more for speeding up the game than his many shortcomings.

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Speaking of shorter games.

HBD to our late, beloved Ray Fosse.

RockHounds roster announced.

Lugnuts, too.

Score an interview with Hal!