MANFRED IGNORES ANGRY METS FANS

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MANFRED IGNORES ANGRY METS FANS

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Here’s where it gets interesting. Mets fans bombarded #AskManfred asking, sometimes insulting and, on occasion, threatening Manfred about the Mets ownership lack of spending to make the team competitive.

 

Truth is, like it or not, the Mets are competitive — despite payroll. They are 47-42 and just two games out of first place in the National League East and one game off the pace in the N.L. Wild Card race. Could they be in a better position? Sure, but injuries, a weak bench, little offensive reinforcements in the farm system and a seemingly frozen payroll, has stunted the Mets immediate success.

Here’s what he did say at Monday’s Q &A:

THOM BRENNAMAN: Coming to your first All-Star Game as commissioner, you see FanFest, and you start to look around. But in your job, you also have to find areas that you really like, maybe some things you’d like to see done a little bit different. As far as our city, Cincinnati, is concerned, this is a mighty big deal here. Outside of some of the things you talked about, in terms of the community and the business community involvement in Cincinnati, so far, so good?

COMMISSIONER ROB MANFRED: It’s been unbelievable. I mentioned before, every year, baseball and the hosting club leaves behind about a five million dollar legacy in terms of projects that we complete in the community. Here in Cincinnati, the Reds foundation, P&G, a number of local sponsors have added an additional three million dollars of legacy dollars to our five. It’s made for a tremendous event in this community.

BRENNAMAN: Matt M., all the way from India. He’s a huge San Francisco Giants fan. Mr. Commissioner, what do you plan to do to promote baseball internationally, specifically in India

MANFRED: Well, our international strategy varies market to market. In some of our more developed markets, we want to take games to those markets, live Major League games, let people see what Major League Baseball looks like. In places like India and China, what we really think is important is to make our content available, broadcast over the Internet, so that people become familiar with our game as a prelude to us taking the game to those markets.

BRENNAMAN: Randall R., Mr. Commissioner, what do you think about each team doing 14 doubleheaders a season to shorten the season by two weeks, while keeping 162 games, thereby allowing for a longer playoff series, which could also include doubleheaders? This is certainly talked about. A lot of people in the game talk about the schedule, Mr. Commissioner.

MANFRED: The schedule is an important issue for us. People forget, we ask our players to play 162 games in 183 days. A lot of those 21 days are consumed by travel. It’s a rigorous, rigorous schedule. So there is a lot of conversation in the game about the schedule, the demands it puts on our players. My own view is that if we were to do something dramatically different with the schedule, we would be better off shortening it, rather than adding doubleheaders. I think if we were going to change the schedule, it should reduce the burdens that we currently impose.

BRENNAMAN: Joshua W. writes, Is there any possibility that the replay rule could be fixed so that it takes less time and does not interfere with the pace of play?

MANFRED: Well, as you know, pace of play has been an important focus for us this year. Thanks to great cooperation from our players, we’ve had really positive early returns. Making replay as quick as possible is part of that pace-of-play effort. I think the key there is to constantly improve our technology. Bob Bowman and the people at MLB.com have provided the absolute best possible technology for instant replay. Every single year, we’ll continue to make it better and it will take less time to complete the reviews.

BRENNAMAN: Before we get to the next question, I want a follow-up on that one: This has really been important to you in baseball about the pace of play. For those of us blessed enough to be part of baseball each and every day at the local level and at the national level, we’re already seeing dramatic improvement. But in the minor leagues, you put in a pitch clock. So far, what has that been, at least the response to that?

MANFRED: I’ll tell you, we started experimenting with the pitch clock in the Arizona Fall League. Some of our more traditional people in the office thought we had really lost our minds a little bit, the idea you’re putting a clock on a baseball field. But they went and they watched the games in Arizona and we got really positive feedback. The experiment really turned people’s views around. That’s why we went ahead, made a major investment to install clocks in AA and AAA. The returns on that have been even better than the great results we’ve seen at the big league level.

BRENNAMAN: I’ve talked to a number of friends of mine who have been to a number of minor league games and they very much feel it’s been a positive influence on the game so far, for whatever that’s worth. Adam P, How do you view the view of data science in MLB. What are the opportunities not yet tapped into and what educational/professional experience do the League and or its teams look for when hiring in these positions?

MANFRED: I think probably the biggest change that’s taken place in baseball in the 20-plus years that I’ve worked in the game is the move to data analysis. In most of our organizations, their baseball decisions are driven largely by data analytics now. I think what you will see going forward is you’ll see technology developments like our Statcast system, that captures even more data than we have today; data about the way players move on the field, data that allows you to evaluate defense in ways that have not been possible traditionally. So I think you’ll see a continuing growing emphasis on data analytics. In terms of skill set, it’s the core quantitative capability, mathematics, computer science people like to see when filling these types of positions.

BRENNAMAN: You’re a baseball fan and have been a fan your whole life. For a lot of us who grew up in baseball, a fan our whole lives, some of this new stuff, it takes a little bit of open-mindedness. What’s that been like for you as a baseball fan?

MANFRED: I’ll tell you how I think about some of the newer technology. I was doing an inning with Ned Colletti during a Dodger game this spring. Joc Pederson made a great catch. Ned, because he’s a 40-year baseball executive, explained because he could just see it with his eye, that he could make the catch because he took a perfect path to the baseball. The way I think about Statcast and those kinds of developments is that allows the average fan, with the untrained eye, to understand the game on the field, the same way that an expert does. I thinks over the long haul, people will enjoy the game more if they understand it better.

BRENNAMAN: Lee wants to write, I should have followed this up when we had it originally, You have the pitch clock at AAA and AA. Do you foresee that coming into the big leagues

MANFRED: I think about pace of game going forward, including the pitch clock. We got tremendous cooperation from our players on the pace-of-game initiative. One of the reasons we got that cooperation was we involved them in the process from the very beginning. After all, whatever you do on the field, it begins and ends with the players. So I think there will be ongoing dialogue with the Players Association about what additional pace-of-game initiatives we can undertake, and I think we’ll try to continue to be responsive to what the fans want, and that’s a nice, crisply played baseball game.

BRENNAMAN: Randy M., With all of a sudden the runs scored in baseball on the decline, and I would imagine that’s probably a preface to this, is there any talk of consideration about lowering the pitcher’s mound?

MANFRED: Let me say this about offense, we watch very carefully what goes on on the field. Generally, where we are on lack of offense is we’re trying to decide whether we’re seeing an aberration or a downward trend that’s going to be continuous, that needs to be addressed. Actually, kind of interesting, some of the offensive numbers have ticked up this year. Everybody keeps talking about offense being down. The numbers actually belie that a little bit. So we’re trying to decide whether we have a problem and solutions like lowering the pitcher’s mound are just down the road for us at this point.

BRENNAMAN: We are going to be taking some questions in a little while from some of you here in Cincinnati at Major League Baseball’s FanFest. But let’s go to Luis C. Is there any chance that you can change the way All-Star players have been selected? Now, Mr. Commissioner, I would imagine this is something that’s probably been on your mind a little bit, based on everything that’s been going on there for quite some time in Kansas City.

MANFRED: Three weeks ago, obviously, everybody was worked up about the number of Royals that were leading at the various positions. And I said at that time that I have great faith in our fans. I thought fans would correct some of the things that people were seeing, that they were not happy about. For example, people in Detroit turned out big time because they thought Miguel Cabrera should be the first baseman. I think that is a demonstration of the fact that fan voting is an important source of fan engagement. Over time, if you leave them alone, fans make pretty good decisions. I also like the idea that player voting provides a backstop against our fan balloting. Nobody knows better than our players who’s best at what they do on the field. So I thinks the combination we have right now is a pretty good one. But are there room for tweaks? Certainly. There certainly are.

BRENNAMAN: Tom R. Would like to know, Will you allow teams to trade their draft picks in the next Major League Baseball labor agreement?

MANFRED: What happens with respect to the trading of the draft picks obviously will be a product of negotiation with the MLBPA. Personally, I do believe that the trading of draft picks is a good thing for baseball. I think that our teams are sophisticated. They realize that draft picks and dollars to be spent on amateur players are resources. You can make trade-off among those resources. I think we have 30 GMs that more than capable of making those decisions.

BRENNAMAN: On both sides, the players and the ownership feel like you being at the negotiating table over the last 20 years made such a significantly positive impact on labor peace for the last number of years. A lot of people frequently want to know, does that trend continue, do you believe, moving forward?

MANFRED: We made a great announcement this morning with the MLB — along with the MLBPA that we’ve dedicated $30 million to the development of youth baseball and softball in the United States. I think that is a reflection of the fact that over two decades, we have built a very positive working relationship with the MLBPA. We don’t agree with the MLBPA about every issue. They don’t agree with us about every issue, but we’ve built the kind of relationship that has allowed us to make agreements. I think that we will continue that trend going forward.

BRENNAMAN: Alex C., Mr. Commissioner, will we see foul tips added to the list of reviewable plays in the future?

MANFRED: I think you will see, in the replay area, a modest continuation of the expansion of the type of plays that are subject to review. There’s been a lot of conversation about foul tips in that category. Whether or not that’s the one we go to next, it’s just probably too early to tell.

BRENNAMAN: Allen would like to know, can you see baseball adding a man to the 25-man roster to give teams another arm, perhaps lighten the load on young starters in hopes of preventing injuries?

MANFRED: Let me say a couple things about this one. Number one, some people are not aware, when we play split doubleheaders now, we actually do expand our rosters by adding a 26th player, to make additional pitching available during that one day when we’re asking teams to play two games. In terms of injuries, it’s interesting. I think our clubs do a tremendous job once they sign players in terms of monitoring how much they pitch, when they pitch. Our data suggests that if we have an overuse injury problem with respect to pitchers, it’s what goes on in the amateur ranks. That’s one of the reasons we worked with USA Baseball to deploy the Pitch Smart program to help people working in the youth space, make sure they make good decisions about the use and overuse of pitchers.

BRENNAMAN: Stephane would like to know the chances for Montreal to have a Major League baseball team again from the greatest sport in the world once again?

MANFRED: I think it’s important. We view ourselves as a growth business. I think it is important for growth businesses to identify and nurture markets that are interested in having the sport expand. Montreal is certainly one of those markets. The mayor of Montreal is a very persuasive, engaging fellow. He’s been in to meet with me. I think the city’s done a fantastic job the last two springs; sold out two games, 90,000-plus people for a couple of exhibition games. So I think that Montreal is an important market for us to monitor and cultivate as we look forward to expansion at some point in time in the future.

Q. My name is Mike. I’m from Beavercreek, Ohio. I was curious, looking into the past with some of the stuff that’s happened, there any plans to revisit the Buck Weaver issue from the 1919 White Sox?

MANFRED: I do get letters about the 1919 White Sox players. I have to tell you, I see the White Sox players a little differently than I do Pete Rose. Those players were eligible to be elected to the Hall of Fame. They were on the ballot for a number of years; it didn’t happen. The underlying events took place decades ago. I think that how history should treat Buck Weaver and the other players that were involved in that scandal is better left to the historians than Major League Baseball at this point.

Q. Joe from Florence, Kentucky. My question is concerning the disabled list. You have the seven-day concussion list and the 15-day disabled list. With advances in medical technology, lots of players get injuries that last only a few days they can recover from. Would be there a chance to include more injuries in just a seven-day list so teams don’t have to play, say, short on their roster for a series against a certain team or something?

MANFRED: Well, they rarely elect to play short, to be honest with you. It just doesn’t happen all that much. But there is constant conversation during each off-season about the length of time that the disabled list lockup should go on. And I would not be surprised to see a shortening of the 15-day number at some point in the future.

Q. I’m John. I’m from Ft. Thomas, Kentucky. Mr. Commissioner, what are you doing to help kids play baseball?

MANFRED: Well, we have a number of programs that are directed at encouraging youth participation. The one that I’ve been talking about a lot recently is a program called Play Ball. The idea of Play Ball is to encourage grass roots activity outside of formalized play. In other words, getting kids to play Home Run Derby, play catch, play Wiffle ball, even if they don’t have 18 kids in uniform and an umpire. We had a great event at the University of Cincinnati yesterday, a hitting challenge. We’re going to have 120 events like that around the country in partnership with the U.S. conference of mayors during the course of this summer.

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John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. Thanks for visiting my website. I write primarily about my passion: baseball. In addition, I occasionally publish posts and podcasts related to sports media, journalism and technology impacting the industry. You can also connect with me on social media @johnstrubel.

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