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Tom Werner: Baseball can keep tradition while speeding up game

08.20.14 at 6:15 pm ET
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Red Sox chairman Tom Werner joined Dale & Holley Wednesday as part of the Jimmy Fund radio telethon. In addition to making a donation, Werner discussed his recent candidacy for the next MLB commissioner.

Werner lost out to Rob Manfred, who will take over for Bud Selig, but he said he intended to take the job.

‘€œI was ready to take it on,’€ Werner said. ‘€œI love the Red Sox and I love baseball. I think the game is a great game, but I was talking about the future and a need to go out and capture a new generation of fans. I used it as an opportunity to talk about some things I care deeply about.’€

Werner said that he pushed heavily to make changes that can speed up the rate of play and revealed some of the changes he’€™d like to see.

“€œI watch these games and I feel often that there’€™s just long periods of just inaction in a game it’€™s like a player, he takes a ball and goes out of the batter’€™s box and fixes his batting glove,” Werner said.

Werner said that he is in favor of a pitch clock, noting his understanding that the idea might be “€œsomewhat radical,”€ but pointing to a recent Red Sox/Angels game in which he felt the pitching coach went to the mound for a lengthy visit solely so he could discuss a previous call when the umpire tried to break up the conference.

“You could see on the camera, he wasn’€™t even talking to the pitcher,”€ Werner said. “They were just waiting for the umpire to come up, and that was an opportunity for the pitcher to say something.”

Werner said that it’€™s crucial to make sure that the next generation loves baseball, saying that attention spans are getting shorter as games are getting longer, so “somebody has to address it in some way.”

Changes to the game may upset traditionalists, but Werner pointed to the NFL, a league that is thriving and has adapted over the years. In fact, Werner made a quip that head coaches don’€™t have lengthy discussions with their kickers before field goal attempts.

“I said this when I was speaking to the owners: I respect tradition and I respect the values of baseball, but every year it seems the NFL has some rule changes that make it feel contemporary and modern. ‘€ … I’€™m for making some moderate adjustments, and let’€™s try it,” he said.

“I just feel like we shouldn’€™t simply say, ‘€˜This game has been the way it is for more than a hundred years and let’€™s leave it that way.’€™ Let’€™s try some things and do it in a way that I think can keep the values of the game but make it more exciting.”

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