Add Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly to the growing list of voices who think Major League Baseball needs more action. If that means continuing to change the playing rules, the reigning National League Manager of the Year is all for it.
"As far as rules go in general, we have to continue to be aggressive," Mattingly said in a Thursday video call with reporters. "We have to continue to put a product out there that people want to see -- that has action and continues to hold our attention. We have to be open-minded."
Mattingly's Marlins lost in the second round of the postseason in 2020, giving him plenty of time to watch October baseball. He didn't love the product.
"I watched a lot of the playoff games after we were eliminated and quite honestly it was a little hard to watch," he said. "There was nothing going on. Strikeout, strikeout, home run. It was hard to watch. It tells me we have to find a way to make our game move."
Former Cubs president Theo Epstein shared a similar sentiment in his exit news conference after stepping down from the team last month, even taking some blame for the current product.
"I take some responsibility for that because the executives, like me, who have spent a lot of time using analytics and other measures have unwittingly had a negative impact on the aesthetic value of the game and the entertainment value of the game," Epstein said.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, plate appearances that ended in a walk, home run or strikeout -- in other words, those without a lot of action -- have gone up 7% over the past decade. Those types of appearances occurred 36% of the time last season, an all-time high.
Mattingly went as far as to say the shift, which places at least three defenders on one side of the field, might need to be regulated.
"I wouldn't be totally against it," Mattingly said. "It's sad that we have to get to that, but I would not be against anything that would basically create more action and less downtime.
"You don't want to change the core of the game. We have to be open-minded to change so it's a product people want to see."
Mattingly was asked if he liked the adjusted rules for the shortened 2020 season, which had a safety component to them but also helped move the game along -- like starting a runner at second base in extra innings.
"None of them bothered me," he said. "A lot of them were good for the season we had last year. Seven-inning doubleheaders, for sure, were almost like a must for last season. I didn't think I'd like the extra-inning rule. I ended up liking that."
Mattingly knows there will be further pushback the more the league tinkers with the rules. But like those implemented in 2020, he thinks people will get used to them.
"You know what happens every time you do one," he said. "Everyone complains. It's changing the game. It's changing the world, then two weeks later, no one is talking about it. Guys will make adjustments."