Manfred’s office actively researched ways to spur the offense, installing several rule changes among minors. He said on Tuesday he was strongly in favor of eliminating field shifts (now banned in class AA), which turn more ground players into outs and encourage hitters to swing for fences.
The negotiations, said Manfred, offer a chance to reinvent the sport and “restore it to be played in a way more akin to what many of us have historically enjoyed. The game is evolving. What we’re playing today won’t look so much like 1971. The question is, which version would you like to get to?
The recent innovations brought by the pandemic, he said, are not expected to last. Extra-inning games have started with a runner on second base for the past two seasons, and matches played in doubles have only lasted seven innings each. Both, he said, are “much less likely to be part of our permanent landscape” – though he didn’t require teams to at least offer coupons or discounts as goodwill gestures to the people. fans who bought tickets to matches of nine innings that were changed to seven innings.
“These are things that seem easy,” Manfred said. “They are much more difficult to perform in real life.”