Every year, the same thing happens as the season comes to a close. After five months of hard fought baseball, we reach September, where teams do their best to stamp their ticket to playoff baseball. Games seem to matter more during the final month of the season, and each at-bat, pitch, and play is amplified. Other than October, September is unequivocally the most exciting month of the season; yet for some reason, baseball does its best to slow the game down.
Teams are allowed to expand their active rosters to 40-members, and fill their dugouts and bullpens with extra help. Suddenly, players who were deemed not good enough for the Major Leagues between April 1st and August 31st are thrust into late September games in meaningful situations.
It’s a time honored process that nobody seems to enjoy, yet has continued year after year. While it’s great to see rookies and grizzled vets finally get a shot at playing in the big leagues, nobody wants to watch a game where managers trot out to the field more often than their own players.
Fortunately, it seems that we might be headed for change. While discussing a number of topics with reporters in Toronto, Rob Manfred said that he’s in favor of altering the rules of roster-expansion.
“I don’t think 18 pitchers in a game is a good thing...I have been outspoken about the idea that our game has changed. It’s changed significantly in recent years. We started in August in the process of broadly thinking about how we’re playing the game on the field, and whether the evolution that’s taken place needs to be managed a little more carefully to make sure that we provide our fans with the most entertaining, action-packed, fast-paced product that we can put out there.”
To be clear, Manfred doesn’t take issue with the concept of September call-ups, but rather with how they’ve been utilized in recent years. His idea would be to limit “the number of players eligible to play each night’s game” rather than cut down on the number of players who could be called up.
Since taking over as commissioner, Manfred’s primary objective has seemingly been to speed up the pace of baseball games; and putting a restriction on eligible players for September games would certainly help.
Given that a number of managers have expressed similar concerns with the number of players being used in the final month of the season, and that Manfred doesn’t want to limit how many players could be called up, there could be a resolution to this issue rather quickly. With the CBA expiring after the World Series, we could very well see a new rule implemented before the 2017 season.