A Few Questions for New Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred
New baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred stopped in Kansas City Thursday on a tour around major league ballparks.
Manfred took time to answer some questions from the Royals media corps. Here are some of the high points.
How can baseball market itself to young fans?
“One of the most important things is that the game gets passed down to the next generation the same way it was passed down to my generation.” Manfred adds that technology can help. He says technology like the Statcast system is something that has great appeal to younger fans. “It allows them to engage with the game and understand the game in a way that’s much deeper and it allows them to do it with the tools that they’re comfortable with—real time video applications.”
Is it important to you to loosen up television blackout policies?
“After Pete Rose, I think I probably get more questions, mail, e-mails about blackouts than anything else. I do think it is important to make every effort to make sure that we use technology and maybe even changes in our rules to make sure people have access to the game via broadcasts—broadly defined."
We’re a month into the new rules about pace of play. How has it gone? What have you liked so far?
“The players have been unbelievably cooperative on this topic. I think they understand that we undertook this in this effort in response to what we heard from the fans and I think out players understand the need to be responsive to the fans. The umpires have shown that difficult and sound judgment by drawing a line between encouraging people to change their behavior and do the right thing but avoiding situations that can be confrontational.” Manfred also says they have not seen other unintended consequences.
For generations, baseball has policed itself. You hit one of ours, I’ll hit one of yours, we’ll call it even. How much do you balance with the old school rules.
Manfred says taking that out of the game is unrealistic. “I think where we get concerned are two issues. One, where you hit someone in the lower part of the body, that’s one thing. Pitches that are up and in concern us and we look at them differently because of the safety issue. Second piece of it that we are focused on-- I hit mine, you hit yours, we move on is one thing. I hit mine, you hit yours and it escalates either to a brawl or verbal confrontation, that concerns us as well. Joe Torre is actively talking to managers as well to try and avoid these things."
Adam Wainwright’s recent injury has fueled some discussion about the National League adopting the designated hitter. Is uniformity in the future?
“Of all the things that I’m focused on and thinking about in terms of continuing to move the game forward, this one does not catch my attention to tell you the truth. I like both brands of baseball. I think the teams have gotten used to adjusting to interleague play and the adjustments that need to be made. In the biggest picture, I think people debate DH/no DH and I think that when people are talking about baseball, it usually starts a good day from my perspective, so I’m sort of a status quo guy on this one.”