MLB's Manfred pleased with postseason, bullish on labor deal before December

MLB's Rob Manfred was one of five big-time commissioners interviewed on Day 1 of the CAA World Congress of Sports, and was happy to talk about the fact that there were no sweeps within the ALDS or NLDS for the first time in a number of years. “We were due for a little good luck,” Manfred said to SBJ's John Ourand. “The last couple of years have been a real challenge with the pandemic and what not. And we've been really fortunate this year. We got some great teams, great rivalries early in the playoffs, which is important in terms of capturing people's interest. I think the East-West piece of it's been really good to have in Boston, Tampa, San Francisco, L.A. That mix is great for us.”

Ourand, a lifelong Orioles fan, asked Manfred about the futility of his team, as the Birds have lost 100 games in each of the last three full seasons. "What can you do to stop the tanking?” Ourand asked. Manfred said, “Your 'tanking' is my 'rebuilding.' It has always been a phenomenon in baseball, particularly this is a reality in our smaller markets, where teams take a step back, try to put together a cohort of young players that puts them in a position to be competitive on the field. When you think about Baltimore, (GM) Mike Elias was in Houston, when people were saying the exact same things about the Astros in terms of their rebuilding process, how down it was. What came out the other end? A team that's been competitive for over 10 years in baseball. And that's a great thing. I know it's hard to say to fans, 'patience.' But the fact that the matter is this cycle in baseball has been a part of our sport forever.”

Asked about the progress on a new labor deal, Manfred said, “The most important thing, from our perspective, is that we made a commitment with the MLBPA that we're going to try to have these negotiations be non-public, quiet, professional. Both sides have lived up to that. We're meeting on a regular basis, have been. And the best I can tell you is that the owners' No. 1 priority, is to get a basic agreement done, before the expiration in early December.” Pushed on that, Manfred doubled down, “I’m a labor optimist -- I always have been. I think we get a deal done before December.”

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