Rob Manfred fields questions before game four of the 2017 World Series

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Rob Manfred Looking For Answers In The Wrong Places

Alex Woodward
February 12, 2020 - 1:01 pm
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By Alex Woodward

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Baseball is known as America's pastime and like America, things change over the years but just because things change doesn't mean it's changing for the better. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred hasn't been shy about his intentions of tweaking some things in MLB in hopes of reaching a younger generation of fans. The problem is, he's looking for all of the answers in the wrong places. 

In his 5 years or so as MLB commissioner, Manfred has introduced robot umpires to the baseball world. He has tried to add pitch clocks, three batter minimums for pitchers and an absurd extra inning idea that involves placing a runner on second base to start the inning. He has also proposed a universal DH and now this crazy proposal for a new playoff format

I think an automated system for calling balls and strikes is an inevitable reality especially with the increase in technology during broadcasts that shows us a 3D strike zone that we often refer to when an umpire misses a call. A universal DH should have been implemented years ago in my opinion. I know this is a touchy subject for baseball purists who refer to strategy in NL games but if MLB wants more action, taking pitchers out of the lineup is an easy way to add more offensive excitement. Putting a runner on second base to start extra innings is just dumb and lazy and this new playoff format is an even worse attempt at adding excitement to the game. We're trying to change too much, too fast and at a certain level it feels like we're just trying to change things for the sake of change. 

Baseball doesn't need radical changes to the game, it just needs slight adjustments if they want to reach younger generations. Those adjustments start with accessibility. Too many teams hold a monopoly over their local markets with their local tv deals. I know those deals make the clubs a lot of money but more and more people are "cutting the cord" and opting for streaming services. Also, too many fanbases have to deal with "blackouts" because the teams aren't drawing large enough crowds. The problem is, if you don't pay for the MLB At Bat app you can't stream the games. MLB is missing a big chunk of their audience by not making games as accessible as other sports such as the NBA and NFL. Whether that be making a deal with a streaming service or teams creating their own apps to stream games; MLB is missing out on the ever growing streaming demographic.

 

They are also missing out on social media exposure. MLB is so concerned with licensing rights and removing posts of people recording an awesome moment on their tv, they've completely missed the reason why that person is recording...because it was AWESOME and they want to share this league with the world. Most people consume a good majority of their sports content through social media. Shunning that sect of society hurts the game more than a pitcher taking 30 seconds to throw a pitch instead of 20. 

More access to the inner workings of the game would also be great for ratings and reaching a younger generation. Recently, MLB announced they will mic up their umpires in 2020 to help explain to fans in attendance and those watching on tv or listening on the radio if a call has been upheld and to explain rules if necessary. That's been needed for awhile as you could tell at multiple points of the playoffs that the home crowd had no idea what was being reviewed while the people at home on their couches get an explanation from the broadcasters. Let's go a step further: allow us to hear the umpires in more ways than just explaining the verdict of a ruling. I want to hear the process. I want to hear the arguments with players and managers. I want to hear what it sounds like when a ball gets fouled back and hits the umpire in the chest protector. These sights and sounds add to the entertainment of the game and allows the "low attention span millenials" to have something to keep their attention. I would also be in favor of mic'ing up the players and coaches but the umpires are already mic'd up so lets take this one step at a time. The benefits of mic'ing up players and managers is obvious though. Think back to all the buzz around the Yankees after @Jomboy_ posted this video of manager Aaron Boone calling his players "f***ing savages in the box". 

 

It doesn't matter if you're a baseball fan or not, watching a manager go completely ballistic on an umpire is must see tv. The most frustrating thing about all of this? IT COULD SO EASILY BE DONE but instead Rob Manfred and his geniuses at the commissioners office are trying to think way outside of the box when some easy answers lie right beneath their noses. 

Baseball doesn't need more playoff teams. Baseball doesn't need a new playoff format where the best teams pick their opponent like this is a Madden tournament in somebodies basement. Baseball needs to add to what already makes this game great. The drama. The highlights. The PLAYERS for crying out loud! Stop trying to conform the game to some idea of what you think people want and start accentuating the things that have made this game great for over 100 years. 

Trevor Bauer can be a polarizing player but his opinion on what Rob Manfred is trying to do to baseball and what is TRULY important couldn't be more spot on. 

Follow @AlexW1057