Menu
Leagues and Governing Bodies

Manfred aims to revolutionize MLB through innovation

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has indicated that he fully supports revamping the game with pitch clocks and elimination of the shiftGetty Images

Critics of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred claim he is “killing baseball and is only interested in baseball to make his rich bosses richer,” though he steadfastly claims they “couldn’t be more wrong,” according to a deep profile by Don Van Natta Jr of ESPN.com. Being the target of fans’ ire has become an “inescapable fact in Manfred's professional life.” His “moves and motives, gaffes and goofs” on social have become “24/7 targets by fans who hold him accountable for every conceivable problem.” Manfred “gets knocked for things that are arguably out of his control” while also dealing with players who claim they “don't trust the commissioner to have the best interests of the game at heart.” He “insists he's trying to do the opposite of ruin baseball.” He said that his goal is to “revolutionize the American game most resistant to innovation by pushing through rules changes to speed things up, add more action and, ultimately, attract more fans.” Critics counter that his “push to hurry baseball along with ‘ghost runners,’ and his push for pitch clocks, only proves how much he hates the game.” Manfred: “Here's the problem. When you acknowledge there's something wrong with the game, that turns you into a hater of baseball."

DIFFERING PERSPECTIVES ON THE MAN: Manfred does not “hesitate to blame himself for the gaffes that have caused him so much trouble -- and sometimes in a surprisingly candid, self-deprecating way.” However, when “confronted with questions about his record, he often bristles defensively, offers multipronged rationalizations for his decisions and sometimes pins blame on others despite insisting he's thick-skinned.” He is not seen that way by team owners, with the Cardinals’ Bill DeWitt Jr. saying, “He's probably direct to a fault. … He's not that political in the sense of making everybody feel great. He says what he thinks." Van Natta notes that Manfred away from cameras “comes off as authentic, self-effacing and rarely passes on the chance to needle one of his deputies.” Owners "seem thrilled with Manfred's job performance," as despite its "array of problems, league sources say baseball has grown into a $10 billion-plus-a-year sport." That is up from $8B when Manfred became commissioner in '14. Owners also "loved Manfred's reorganization of the minor leagues in 2020, and in the past decade, franchise valuations have more than quadrupled." Meanwhile, expansion "is coming." Manfred said, "I would love to get to 32 teams."

SHOULDERING THE NEED FOR CHANGE: MLB is going through a “current existential crisis,” and how much should be put on Manfred’s shoulders “depends on whom you ask, though even his allies agree he's been slow to change the game.” Leaguewide attendance totals are “down considerably this season … on pace to be the lowest since 1996.” Additionally, the average nine-inning game this season through Sunday was 3 hours, 5 minutes, “only 5 minutes shorter than last season's all-time record high.” Even the game's “more conservative owners complain that games stretching three to four hours must end.” DeWitt said, "The game has changed and it has changed for the worse. … The game needs fixing. It's just slow." Manfred has indicated that he “fully supports revamping the game with pitch clocks, the elimination of the shift and, in 2024, some form of robo-umpires.” However, he “must sell those changes to players and fans” (ESPN.com, 6/29).

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: August 10, 2022

Endeavor sells minor league teams; Eddy Cue meets with MLS BOG; NFL eyes Black Friday game for '23

SBJ I Factor: Jed York

SBJ I Factor: Jed York, presented by Allied Sports SBJ I Factor presented by Allied Sports features an interview with San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York. York is in his 17th year with the organization and his 12th as CEO. He is a two-time SBJ Forty Under 40 honoree as a member of the classes of 2012 and 2013. York talks with SBJ’s Abe Madkour about what he learned from growing up in the sports business, working in multiple departments at the team, the challenges of building Levi’s Stadium, and how his leadership style has evolved through the years. SBJ I Factor is a monthly podcast offering interviews with sports executives who have been recipients of one of the magazine’s awards, such as Forty Under 40, Game Changers and others.

SBJ Spotlight: Warner Bros. Discovery

CNBC media reporter Alex Sherman joins SBJ’s John Ourand to discuss Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming strategy. The two talk about the company’s interest in sports rights, with Sherman noting that the company is in a cost-cutting mode, which is one reason why it has not been active in media rights negotiations over the past several months.

Shareable URL copied to clipboard!

https://sbjcd02.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com/Daily/Issues/2022/06/29/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/Rob-Manfred-MLB.aspx

Sorry, something went wrong with the copy but here is the link for you.

https://sbjcd02.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com/Daily/Issues/2022/06/29/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/Rob-Manfred-MLB.aspx

CLOSE
;