Even though Major League Baseball and the MLBPA agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this offseason, Commissioner Rob Manfred’s work is far from done.
Baseball will be played sans labor-related interruptions for the next five years, but it doesn’t mean the game can’t be tweaked between now and then.
We last checked in with Manfred and the state of baseball in January, but here is your latest update:
- At the top of Manfred’s priority list (again) is pace of play. The Commissioner told MLB.com that the new CBA includes a “provision on playing-rule changes” which could allow baseball to implement something like a pitch clock – which is currently in use in Minor League Baseball and has been since 2015 – before the next CBA. With Manfred leading the charge, MLB will try to work to make the game enticing to fans by way of shortening it, and cutting out lulls in the action.
- Bob Nightengale of the USA Today chimes in with the anecdote that solving baseball’s pace of play issues is “the most aggravating irritation” in Manfred’s life. The average time of a nine-inning game lasted three hours – or four minutes more than the average game time of a 2015 contest. Manfred said pace of play is “an issue we need to be focused on” – and by “we” he means players, umpires, owners and anyone else involved in the game. Nightengale writes that owners believe “it’s imperative to shorten games to enhance attendance at their ballparks.”
- Nightengale and MLB.com also have Manfred’s thoughts with regards to baseball’s domestic abuse policy (Manfred said he is pleased with how it has worked so far), travel restrictions for players (approximately 27% of baseball’s players are foreign-born, but Manfred said he has no concerns yet about President Trump’s executive order restricting travel from certain countries), and a near-agreement for in-market streaming (with the only holdouts being the Dodgers, Nationals and Orioles; we discussed the Cubs and in-market streaming here).
- Miami has a busy season of baseball ahead with the World Baseball Classic and the All-Star Game headlining the year to come at Marlins Park. Manfred shared some thoughts with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, including the changes to the All-Star Game the commissioner hopes will bring the added competitive spirit that was missing during the “This Time It Counts” era. Manfred added, “It’s not ideal to have a 103-win team not have home-field advantage.” A nod to the World Series champion Cubs – who actually benefited from the AL rules winning three of four games at Progressive Field.
- The WBC games in Miami might be the best ball played at Marlins Park in 2017. The teams in this bracket includes Team USA, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Canada.