In a wide-ranging piece, Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN chats with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred about possible changes to the sport that could be implemented over the coming years. Of particular note are Manfred’s comments on a trio of issues: an automated strike zone, pitch clocks and the possibility of league expansion.
Manfred expressed support for the implementation of the robotic strike zone at the major league level in 2024. Precisely what form that’d take isn’t clear, as the commissioner raised two possibilities for such a setup. The first would be to have all ball-strike calls computer-generated, with the result relayed to the human umpire via earpiece. An alternative possibility is to leave the home plate umpire in charge of initial calls but institute some form of challenge system, whereby each manager would have a finite number of chances to contest a ball-strike call during the game.
MLB has tested the automatic strike zone in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League for the past five weeks. The possibility of taking calls away from human umpires has been discussed for some time, with the proliferation of pitch-tracking technology making that a more viable possibility. The process hasn’t always gone entirely smoothly, however. Last month, Guardians manager Terry Francona opined to The Athletic that an automated zone used in exhibition play in 2020 was “not ready.” Francona suggested that while the zone tended to be precise on the corners of the plate, “up and down it’s got some work to do.”
In addition to having every pitch called by the robotic zone, MLB has experimented with the challenge system during certain minor league games. Two weeks ago, Manfred told reporters (including Evan Drellich of the Athletic) that the league was likely to continue both systems in the minors and didn’t intend to institute the automated zone next season. “We’re continuing to experiment in the minor leagues,” Manfred said at the time. “Big kind of development in the challenge-system alternative. The idea of using two different formats is a big change this year.”
While the automated strike zone seems unlikely to be a factor at the major league level before 2024, the pitch clock seems to be trending towards implementation next season. MLB has been testing with as few as 14 seconds between offerings when no runners are on base at certain levels of the minors. Van Natta writes that the 14-second marker would also be a target for major league implementation, while pitchers would have 18 or 19 seconds to throw when runners are on base. Manfred’s affinity for the pitch clock as a means of expediting pace of play is hardly a new development. He’s supported its testing in the minor leagues, and he expressed a desire last November for it to be part of the most recent round of CBA negotiations.
On-field rules changes ended up on the back burner as the league and Players Association focused on bigger core economics issues late in CBA talks. Yet the sides did agree to the implementation of a rules committee that’ll go into effect in 2023. The committee will be made up of four active players, six league appointees and an umpire. The league’s majority gives it de facto authority to implement many on-field rules changes it desires, and the committee will have the right to institute a new rule within 45 days of informing the MLBPA. (Under the previous CBA, the league had to wait one year after informing the PA before making a unilateral on-field rules adjustment).
This week, Andy Martino of SNY reported the identities of the people expected to be on the 2023 committee. Making up the players’ contingent are Jack Flaherty, Whit Merrifield, Austin Slater and Tyler Glasnow, with Ian Happ and Walker Buehler tabbed as alternates. On the league side will be John Stanton (Mariners), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals), Greg Johnson (Giants), Dick Monfort (Rockies), Tom Werner (Red Sox) and Mark Shapiro (Blue Jays). Bill Miller is expected to serve as the umpire representative. Along with the pitch clock, the committee is widely expected to examine the possibility of enlarging the bases and limiting defensive shifting.
While on-field rules changes figure to be relatively simple to implement, league expansion would be a much more complex process. Manfred tells Van Natta he’d “love to get to 32 teams,” although he didn’t elaborate a timetable or possible target cities for two new franchises. MLB’s last round of expansion was in 1998, when the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays were added to push the league from 28 to 30. Each of the NFL (2002), NBA (2004) and NHL (2021) have added teams to their respective leagues within the past two decades.
Manfred himself is under contract through 2024, having been unanimously approved for an extension by the league’s owners in November 2018. Van Natta reports the commissioner has a $17.5MM annual base salary under that deal, which also includes unspecified performance bonuses. Asked whether he wanted to continue in the role beyond 2024, the 63-year-old Manfred said he “hasn’t made a decision about what I’m going to do, whether I want to continue. I love the job, but I haven’t really made a decision about what’s next.“
The Baseball Fan (Doesn’t like the White Sox)
Is there anyone old enough that can attest to baseball and its commissioner and the future success of the game?
I’m totally done with baseball if they go the way of the automatic strike zone. How much more boring can this sport get? I grew up loving baseball, had season tickets for 15 years, today I get bored watching it. It’s mostly strike outs and home runs. the hit and run play is gone. sacrifice hits, gone. Complete games? Gone.
Do you watch baseball for the umpires? I’m confused as to why an automated strike zone would make the game more boring for you?
It does seem an odd hill to die on, doesn’t it?
Though I do agree with his general assessment. However, I’m optimistic and hope some of these changes will make for a better game.
Not sure on the automated strike zone. But why can’t MLB have off season seminars – and in-season tutorials addressing the egregious mistakes fans see on TV? Let’s just strive to make the game better.
To me, it seems more like the straw that broke the camel’s back to him. That by itself is probably not enough to make him walk away, but that in combination with everything else that has ticked him just might be enough. I understand that feeling, but I am not quite there yet.
It just amazes me that someone that seems to think there is so much wrong with the game of baseball wanted to be the commissioner in the first place. Because with as many wholesale changes as he institutes, he obviously does not love the sport.
Or a better Idea…. fire Angel Hernandez and other incompetent umpires. Players lose their jobs for poor Job performance, umpires should as well. I’m not saying Umps have to be perfect, but the ones that are consistently grading out well below the accepted (mendoza line)., are held accountable.
I guarantee if Angel would show up and umpire a Tee Ball game he would only get 50% of the calls correct…. think about that….. the ball is on a Tee.
Half the umpires are completely worthless at call balls/strikes consistently. It’s years past time for a robo strike zone. Quite honestly the umpires have done this to themselves there seems to be no accountability for the few absolutely horrid umpires. No thanks on expansion when there is consistently half a dozen teams who put together rosters that AAA teams can beat. The talent is watered down enough. What MLB needs to do is pour s’more money into inner cities in the USA to get more poor kids her the chance to develop baseball skills.
I mean yeah, people aren’t watching the game for umpires, but they are an integral part of baseball’s character.
My take — automated strike zones will strip a uniquely human aspect from the game. Gone will be the innocent bickering and strife among fans, and the objecting theatrics of a snarling manager on the top step of the dugout.
One reason sports are awesome is because we see humans doing incredible things, umpires included — their jobs aren’t acquired without putting in time and honing their craft.
Ultimately, this is just my opinion, and baseball will continue to chug along as it always has — and I’ll continue watching regardless.
No, players do not necessarily lose their jobs for poor performance, only some do. The league is littered with underperforming veterans who have signed contracts that teams would love to “fire”, but the contract, sometimes long term, is guaranteed. So, the player stays, often for years.
Also, given the number of sub-Mendoza line starters this year, there appears to be a lack of talent to replace players with poor performance. (In a recent Rays-Pirates game, each team started five sub-Mendozas. Quality baseball at its best.)
I am fine with human umpires. Just like I am fine with human players even though they fail most of the time. It is a imperfect human game played by imperfect humans umpired by other imperfect humans. It is not a video game.
The Saber-toothed Superfife
Booing the ump is an integral part of the fan experience…..
You obviously know nothing about the game…..and how it used to represent LIFE….
Baseball used to be a team sport…… With a manager that could change things, specialists at particular tasks, things arent always fair or right…but that’s the game….
Now its all about ego……”hey Im Mookie Betts, watch.me.on MLB”
Really, I used to watch a team.play baseball together…not some dudes ego trip wanting to get way overpaid for a sport…
I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that you or anyone else will walk away from the game due to robo umps anymore than I believed the people who said they were done with baseball during the lockout that are still commenting on the site to this day.
I find the people who threaten to walk away from baseball in a comment section to be more annoying than a ball that’s called strike 3. Can’t do anything about the former, but if they have a way to eliminate the latter then I don’t see how that can be labeled a bad thing for the game.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
I like the idea of keeping the umps behind the plate, but allowing for challenges. It may slow the game down a bit, but I’ve seen some really bad calls this year in game changing situations.
First off, I was one of those people that said they would be done IF it canceled games. I don’t care one iota if they want to lockout players in the offseason. It doesn’t affect me. But if just one game was canceled over greed, you better believe I would have canceled my MLB package and you would have never seen or heard from me again.
Ugh. Using a challenge system for ball/strike calls is just about the worst way to implement this. MLB is busy trying to find ways to speed up play and would consider this approach which will only lead to more delays in the action? That’s completely moronic. If they’re going to go with an electronic strike zone go all the way, every pitch signaled to the bump behind the plate. There are multiple benefits to that approach. 1) it doesn’t introduce delays in the action 2) it provides for a consistent strike zone game to game so both pitchers and batters will know what is and isn’t s strike and 3) by having the umpire back there still tracking the pitches but hearing the tone for strikes it will give them real time feedback and in the process improve their strike zone judgment should the league ever want to return to the umpires calling balls and strikes again.
Larry and Denny were never quitters. You shouldn’t be one either. If you can be a Phillies fan for as long as your name implies, you can handle disappointment.
The Saber-toothed Superfife
Manfred 8lis absolutely ruining the game,
Bad for baseball.
Bad for America!
Get rid of Manfred!
Why Austin Slater? Like is it because he is an inbetween guy?
i would say so. He would represent the average player for the negotiations..
@tstats – I’m guessing he is already part of some sort of MLB player committee and the Giants/MLBPA like the job he is doing with that position.
He is. I remember seeing a lot of quotes from him during the lockout, where he represented the players.
Plus he does an incredible Elvis impersonation.
Yep it is
AKA Manfraud who can’t make a decision will give his decision in about 10 years.
He’s the new Goodell.
The fact is pitchers pitches have exceeded the ability of umpires to call strikes. On close pitches the umpires might as well flip a coin.
Players should decide games, not umpires.
Balls and strikes are almost never decisive in a game, and umpires get them right something like 98% of the time anyway (maybe 95% if an ump has a particularly bad night). So use robo umps or don’t use them. I don’t really care and it doesn’t get to the existential problems with the sport. Now, ban the shift and move the mound back and we’re talking.
Get Off My Mound
I think the idea of having an automated strike zone just for the purpose of challenging balls and strikes is a great idea. If we can challenge for things like safe and out calls, we should definitely have the ability to challenge balls and strikes.
Not sure who “we” is in this argument, but I agree a limited number of challenges is the better implementation. The number of really bad strike zone calls in any given game is usually pretty small. But the method of ruling on the appeal has to be pretty quick or it’s going to slow down of the game pace to a crawl.
Have you ever seen C.B. Bucknor call a game behind the plate? All Manfred has to do is make Bucknor the poster child for the robo ump, and all parties will unanimously approve it effective immediately
But what “strike zone” will they implement in the tracking system? The one that doesn’t go above the waist called by humans now or the one in the MLB rule book “The official strike zone is the area over home plate from the midpoint between a batter’s shoulders and the top of the uniform pants — when the batter is in his stance and prepared to swing at a pitched ball — and a point just below the kneecap.” Think about how large Aaron Judges strike zone will be if the automation calls strikes on high pitches that are at the midpoint between his waist and his shoulders.
Exactly. An electronic strike zone is a lot more complicated than it sounds. A lot of fans get themselves all in lather about what they see on TV but that box isn’t official and sure isn’t magical, it’s just a box put there by the broadcasters. The zone is also three-dimensional and that is rarely shown on TV. The idea that technical is automatically better than human judgment is a fantasy.
Introduce a limited number of challenges. It will take care of those few pitches in a game that ride six inches off the plate being called strikes, and forget robo umps at least until the technology can actually handle it and implement a consistent rule.
Im concerned on how they will choose the umpire. I hope that angel is not on the committee.
i would say for the auto ump, why not have hybrid where the machine calls the plate width and the ump calls the height. How many times have we seen a ball called a strike that was in the other batters box
If they don’t choose Angel, whoever makes the choice will be sued for racism.
Who else could it be…….Satan?????
I really don’t understand the argument against robotic strikes and balls. Why on earth would you want inconsistent balls and strikes..
I understand arguing against the pitch clock, but I’m all for it. These guys are spending way too much time adjusting their cup and walking around the mound. Get in the box and make the pitcher Throw the damn ball. It’s gotten ridiculous.
You may be the one person on the planet who believes that technology never fails.
For years I’ve asked how the automatic strike zone is going to be administered to fit the individual players heights.
The size of the strike zone boxes on the TV screen are the same whether the batter is Jose Altuve or Aaron Judge. This makes no sense.
A human being has to calibrate the high-low setting before each batter – either as he steps unit the batters box, or gets measured before the game.
I’ve noticed this too, and apparently so has Francona. Yet some fans hate umpires so much they’d trust a half-baked techno umpiring over the judgement of human beings.
@Samuel – I believe that is Franconia’s exact argument when he says the technology is not ready yet. Being in the software industry myself, it would be very easy to add individual player measurements to whatever database they use for the system. They would just need to integrate lineup cards with the electronic ball/strike system and have someone in the booth to run the electronic scoring, including inputting each team’s lineup card at the start of the game, letting the system know when the batter is done with their at bat, let the system know when a pinch hitter comes to the plate, etc.
The other option would be for players to wear a special chip on their belts where the system can measure the distance between the chip and the ground. This method would be less exact as some batters squat in the batter’s box or wear their pants higher than others. So the best bet is option 1: an electronic scoring system/box score where all players are pre-measured to start the season (even minor leaguers) and the system will use those stored measurements to determine the top and bottom of the zone for each one of them. There also needs to be an option to manually add player measurements to the system ‘on the fly’ just in case a player gets called up overnight from the minors and they were never pre-measured to start the season. The rest is gravy.
Great. Agree with everything you wrote.
What gets me is that a process to measure the batters strike zone should have been one of the first things designed and worked out. In MLB’s case, this includes the laborious process of going through the Players Union along with all the lawyers and agents lining up looking to bill. It appears from a distance that that process has not started.
Back in the 1980’s I would fight with system developers and explain that computer security had to be designed into their systems before any coding started. (The same for Response Time requirements.) Not doing that up front is like doing the grading, putting the foundation in, building the walls, and than finding that house is further away from available fire hydrants than the lengths of the hoses the fire departments have. Which means either tearing out what has been built and restarting; or 1) going to an expensive “workaround” to extend the water lines and buy/install new hydrants, or 2) purchase longer hoses for the fire department which need to be tested out and signed off on. Of course in that example there are housing permits one has to get before breaking ground. But in MLB’s case there are no laws in place to cover what they’re trying to do. I can only imagine the billing the lawyers and agents have already run up.
While i agree with you in theory, people make adjustments to their stance and swing during the season. Also you really cant just use height as some batters are a crouched stance and some are very stand up. Remember Craig Counsel even at times he starts in one stance and adjusts another inch or so up in the same at bat just as the ball is pitched.
Maybe look the other way around to standardize it catchers knees to mask or something similar but you do come across same issue if the catcher moves side to side or up and down for each pitch but for most pitches it seems they are in the same starting position.
It’s not my “theory”.
I understand baseball and the strike zone.
Since this whole robo umpire thing started I’ve asked how a strike zone was going to be set in the computer software.
When a batter is in his stance a human umpire looks over the catchers shoulder and sees the top and bottom of the batters strike zone. If computer sensors are going to call the pitch, then there has to be a way of setting the top and bottom of the zone AS THE BATTER IS CROUCHING.
Theoretically, transmitters in the jersey. It’s not hard technologically. The bigger problem is the rulebook strike zone is nowhere near what is actually called on the field. So first, the rule book will have to be revised to the de facto reality, which is a lot more difficult than it sounds.
The strike zone used to be between the top of the letters and top of the knees when a player is in a relaxed stance. Not sure if that is still the case. They did this so a player couldn’t get on his haunches and leave a foot or less zone. So the height does come into play but you can’t have one zone for all players. I like the idea of measuring players before the season. Could easily be done in preseason.
I like the pitch clock too. There are problems with it though. If a player can only throw over twice that gives the runners a huge advantage. If the pitcher has thrown over the runner can start a lot sooner and not have to worry about a pick off. I don’t think robo umping will be anytime soon. Dale Scott was in the broadcast both and it sounded it sounded like the umps were against it. With all the changes to change the length of the game they have only changed it a handful of minutes. Make the players stay in the box and not retighten every piece of equipment after each pitch. Just my humble opinion.
Still far more accurate then an umpires eye.
I work in IT and it certainly does fail. Also, there is the ever present user error.
Retired software computer guy here. Of course it fails.
They’re going to have to have multiple backup systems in place – hardware and software. If those fail they’ll have to go to back to the manual system of the umpire calling the game.
Computers are machines. They break. Ask anyone that owns one……or has computer equipment in their car…and the cost to fix them when they go bad…and make sure all parts are stocked.
P.S. Did you know that there is not one camera focused on home plate? I believe I read that each park has 8-12 at different positions to get multiple angles, whose data is fed into a central computer. The cost to buy that equipment as well as pay professional peoples salaries is not cheap.
It’s one reason I get upset at the notion that:
Gross Revenue – Players Payroll = Money In The Owners Pocket
All those iPads we see players looking at in the dugouts, the video equipment used in working with hitters and pitchers, communication from the office employees, electronic communication from the minor league affiliates, etc. – all of which requires a WiFi system in place (as well as a backup) is extremely expensive….not to mention a headache with the carrier pointing fingers at the software and operating system vendors at least once a week. LOL
This is such a non-issue. You have to still have an ump behind the plate (for plays at the plate). So if it fails he just starts calling them himself.
But, does technology fail more or less than Angel Hernandez? Thats the real question.
If you have Angel and CB times Pi do you have an equation equal to the area of the strike zone or two idiots sitting at the table waiting for Pie?
It is the American delusion that technology solves any problem.
Engineering a three dimension strike zone is not easy. That two dimensional box you see on the screen when you watch a game is incredibly inaccurate. We could start with the simple fact that you are viewing the box from an angle as the camera providing the view is up and to the left. But since it is technology, people believe it is accurate.
Perhaps rather than technology and rule changes baseball should focus on how the game is played.
It’s not the least bit hard. Think of your car and the fact (if it’s fairly modern) that it won’t lock the door if it knows the key is in it. And won’t start if it knows the key isn’t in it. Exact same principle. A good high school technology teacher could get his students to do this.
Actually, it is difficult made more difficult by the environment, I.e. obstacles in the way of instruments. Your faith in technology is misplaced.
Have you noticed how often the pitchcom system fails during games? What do you think will happen with an auto ump? Besides, baseball was never meant to be perfect. Hell, life is never meant to be perfect. We don’t need machines doing the job with the umpire just standing there twiddling his thumbs. If you do auto ump for balls and strikes, then why do you need umpires at all? They make mistakes after all . For that matter, players make mistakes too and they get hurt. So let’s just simulate the game on a computer program and then broadcast a CGI simulation. That’ll put butts in the seats.
Humans tend to call the same size strike zone for every batter, if the automation follows the rule book, a tall guy that is upright in his stance will have a huge strike zone and a short guy that crouches in the box will have a tiny strike zone. This would hurt Aaron Judge and would have helped crouchers like Pete Rose.
The official strike zone is the area over home plate from the midpoint between a batter’s shoulders and the top of the uniform pants — when the batter is in his stance and prepared to swing at a pitched ball — and a point just below the kneecap.
Not in his stance when he is standing in a relaxed stance. Like when you are standing around talking to someone. It will be different for each batter but no way to even it out.
The Saber-toothed Superfife
Because the game of baseball represents life. Things are not always right or fair, but you have to deal with it.
Booing the ump is part ofmthe game, igniting your team by arguing with the ump or getting ejected…is part of the game.
You don’t whine, you deal with it.
Baseball used to be a team sport, with a manager for a boss, specialists to do specific tasks and it was a team effort to execute strategies and win together as a team.
Now its about ego and bat flips.
There appears to be ZERO effort to understand tradition in baseball by this new selfcentered, self-righteous generation.
Baseball is a tradition.
You dont change tradition, you respect it.
I’m hoping they do away with this runner at second base to start extra innings. Just feels unearned…no pun intended.
And it feels like it usually just hands the game to whomever comes up first in extras. Might as well just surrender the game to that team if no one scores in the bottom of the 9th…
It’s actually the opposite. Favors the home team. But extra innings always did.
And the worst part about it is that logically it doesn’t shorten games because both teams get the chance. It just runs up the score. Really, how many 18 inning games were there before? Most extra inning games were over by the 11th or 12th without the free runner. There are 2430 games every year give or take a couple cancelled. This rule seems like it was put in place to affect maybe 3 of those games.
Younger pitchers coming up are used to a clock and take less time between pitches. Home plate umpires are horrible and an electronic strike zone is way overdue. Tinkering with things are fine but Rob seems more intent on hurting the game by giving it a complete overhaul. Every commissioner wants to be remembered for something they did to the game, I hope Rob isn’t remembered for ruining it
Well your buddy Rob works at the pleasure of the owners, so if you don’t like what he’s doing, you know who to call.
It’s senseless to complain about pace of play while instituting replay left and right. Anyone count up the minutes wasted to that each game?
I think a pitch clock will do wonders for the game. There is nothing worse than watching pitchers who have runners on base slow the game down to a crawl. Setting a consistent time for the pitcher to make his next pitch with runners on base will be better for everyone (except maybe the pitcher himself). It will keep the batter ready to hit at the plate, it will force the defense to stay more alert and not socialize with the runners on base and it will keep the crowd / home tv audience much more engaged as well. Besides upsetting tradition, I see very little downside to a pitch clock.
Bigger bases make a lot of sense too, especially with replay being so nit picky about coming off the base after making a slide. Plus it will make the game safer at 1B, allowing more surface area for the runner (and the first baseman) when a bad throw is made. The only downside to bigger bases is that more batted balls will be ricocheting off of them but that’s just part of the game.
Lastly, I’m on the fence about changing the shift rules. On one side of the coin, I’d like to see more offense and eliminating the shift would most likely accomplish that, but on the other hand, defensive alignment is a huge part of baseball and taking this away does not seem fair. There was a game last week where the Anaheim coaching staff used 4 outfielders against Raffy Devers and it worked! Also, at the end of a game where there is a tie in the 9th inning, and the home team has a runner in scoring position with less than 2 outs, the visiting team will often play with 2 outfielders (shallow) and bring the 3rd OF in to play the IF. I’d hate to see that go away as it is fun to watch. The shift actually started out this way too; only used in specific situations and now it has ballooned into an everyday option.
By the 1950’s owner Bill Veeck was constantly arguing that the rule to throw a pitch in – I believe – 30 seconds needed to be enforced.
That was 65-70 years ago.
And even with the clock, the batters will be stepping out and the umpires will be granting time.
My two cents:
Automated strike zone? Yes. On every pitch, not just when challenged. If we can get the call correct every time, then do it.
Pitch clock? Yes. Time of game and pace of play have gotten ridiculous.
Larger bases? I don’t care.
Ban the shift? Yes. I’d like more offense.
Expansion? No. We’ve got a while to go before starting to think about that. Oakland and Tampa Bay need to be figured out first.
You may be underestimating the effect of larger bases. Those extra couple inches actually change the calculus for stolen bases completely. And I love me some SB’s.
If you use robot umps it changes the game. great pictures like Pedro. Randy Johnson and Steve Calton were able to stretch the strike zone as they had great control and umps believed that they were allways around the strike zone. If a pitcher struggled with control like MAtt wWilliams he had to be in the zone as he was wild most of the time. Umps missing calls is part of the game as much as strikeouts or errors
Lost me at umps believed that they were always around the strike zone.
I think you meant MITCH Williams. Matt Williams was a third baseman.
Yup, the Wild Thing…
Leave the game alone, Manfraud.
100% agree if they are changing the game for younger people they better hope it works because their baseball fans who love the game. I watch 250- 300 games a year. this year with the stupid strike and the rule changes already I have watched around 20 games. At this point I would rather play Out fo the Park game then watch a game. The worst part I;m a Jays fan I’ve watched every game when they sucked thay are a good team know and baseball is changed and not for the better
Huh? Nothing’s changed this year. Except maybe the ball. Certainly no rules.
Did you forget about the universal DH?
Before expansion, MLB has to figure out the Angels, A’s and Rays stadium situations, which should take about five years. Angels will stay put, they’ve got a good thing going. The A’s are pretty much a lock to move to Las Vegas, like the Raiders did, and Florida is willing to work with the Rays, being one of the few states doing well economically. So the Rays will remain in Florida, though not sure where.
After that, we have to consider the potential expansion sites. Vancouver, Montreal, Mexico City, Portland, San Antonio, Nashville, Louisville and the Carolinas. After COVID, you can rule out anything in Canada and Mexico, which is unfortunate because Montreal Expos expansion would be epic. And after the riots and destruction, you can rule out Portland too. No professional sports franchise wants anything to do with that city. San Antonio and Louisville both have a strong baseball presence already so they’ll likely be the leaders.
Louisville Sluggers and San Antonio….Alamo?
“And after the riots and destruction, you can rule out Portland too. No professional sports franchise wants anything to do with that city.”
Have all professional sports franchises actually said this or is this your opinion stated as fact?
No one is going to state that.
However, the liberal Target company recently moved their headquarters and 3,500 employees out of Minneapolis due to the riots, and there are other companies that have moved out of the area as well. Lowers the tax base for city services – including Police and Fire. And when the larger businesses move out the support businesses such as restaurants and services dry up so they’re no longer paying taxes.
Where did that rumor get started? Probably on some right wing site, lol. Nothing of the sort happened. Target is still happily based in Minneapolis.
It’s not a rumor, it’s a fact.
Target moved their headquarters out of the central city. Query it.
The Trailblazers play in Portland. I was just there. There’s so many trees and hills that when you’re outside of downtown you wouldn’t know where you were anyway.
Mexico City has a horrible economy and that’s why MLB has never seriously gone for Mexico. Covid and Montreal? Please….
The Blazers already have a stadium and a fan base. A major league team coming to Portland would have neither, and Oregon is struggling economically, moreso than most states outside of CA.
Mexico City wouldn’t be bad because of the economy, that’s more of a safety of the players issue as well as elevation. If you think the ball carries in Denver, wait till you see MC.
It’s one of those things no one says out loud, but is well known in the business world. Major businesses have left CA, Portland and Seattle entirely. Smaller businesses boarded up in 2020, and over 50% never reopened in those areas while in small towns and suburbs, they reopened and saw record service before inflation hit. Is a hard time to make money right now. Now picture a baseball franchise trying to enter one of these markets. There’s no fan base, raising taxes to build a stadium is out of the question as these cities are bleeding money from recovery, and the team’s certainly won’t want to build a state of the art stadium only to have it destroyed the next time a president is elected they don’t like it the Supreme Court does something they don’t want them to do.
It’s just bad business. MLB would choose somewhere that does not have those obstacles.
You obviously have an agenda and bias. Paid to post are ya’?
Too bad ignorance isn’t painful
I see yard signs and bumpers stickers with that on them.
Attendance is declining, strikeouts remain high, team batting is at a 1968 level, and ballgames take forever to finish. So let’s expand the major leagues. Warped priorities based on fantasy football thinking.
Besides, are you not aware the Braves will veto any ballclub moving to Nashville?
Worst commissioner ever!
The automated strike zone has to part of the game. If Manfred is so worried about pace of play he should be more worried about the time spent by managers screaming at the home plate umpires when they get thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. Some umpires are terrible and can’t call balls and strikes to save their life!
Manfred has been concerned with pace of play since day one, but he won’t talk about the REAL solution which is to cut down the length of time between innings. That would reduce advertising dollars, and we can’t have that.
Fans come to see the players play not to see their favorite players get tossed because they argue a ball or strike call these umpires are literally looking to throw anybody out of the game. these umpires make it seem like they think that they are the reason fans come to the ballpark.
I used to go to see quality baseball, good entertainment. Spring training, regular season, Arizona fall league. I never went to see prima donnas whine and was fine with them getting tossed. Given that the quality of baseball has plummeted, I go a lot less and watch a lot less. Manfred is just helping me transition to a post-baseball life.
Best professional baseball to watch? In my opinion, Arizona fall league, far more entertaining than the majors.
Oh boy, Flaherty on the players group and DeWitt on the owners group. That should be interesting. Expansion needs to wait. Showing that the other pro sports leagues have expanded more recently just shows that those leagues are managed more competently.
Don’t worry, Flaherty will probably get hurt and the union will have to sub for him,
the players got hosed. Letting the league have basically cart blanche to make whatever rule changes they want is insane.
Implementing technology just for the sake of implementing technology. It’s a baseball game not seeking a cure for cancer. Might as well just have the opposing managers sit down and play Super Bases Loaded and decide games that way,
manfred is ruining baseball
Jonathan Schoop to the Phillies
An automated strike zone would be a huge W for the game. Balls/strikes are called consistently and accurately, players don’t get tossed for arguing because there’s nothing to argue, and umpires don’t get to flaunt their ego. You want the game decided by the players and what they do on the field, not by umpires or their ability to remove guys from the game.
Big proponent of the machine dictated strike zone. I like the idea of measuring each player. The bases is an interesting discussion. Bigger bases increase the chance of evading the tag. I don’t know how high off the ground is right. On the shift, I had an idea of modifying the strike zone if you had three infielders on one side of the infield. Not sure specifically how to do it, but I would like it to be done to sort of level things out and make teams really have to think it through. As for expansion, 32 teams obviously appeals to my mathematical brain. 2 divisions of 8 teams in each league, not sure about playoffs but I feel like too many teams will be in them.
Love the pith clock idea. Baseball, with its focus on the 3 true outcomes, has slowed to a crawl. A game didn’t take 2 hours to play until the 1940’s and as late as the 80’s took 2 1/2 hours. I go to quite a few MiLB games in West Michigan, and the pitch clock at that level has helped pick up the pace of games. I do wonder though what it will do to pitchers. Some older fans lament how pitchers of old started 40 games and completed most of their starts. But they did not throw nearly as hard, or with as much effort as pitchers today. Are we going to see more pitching injuries? So far we haven’t seen issues at the MiLB.issues, so far.
A robot zone? Fine, bring it. But would also rather see them actually get rid of umps that stink. The majority of umps behind the plate do a good job and are consistent with their zone. It is a few notable ones that are just horrible. I suspect the umps union would rather have an automated zone that see some of their members sent packing because they stink at their job.
And sure, limit shifts. Not going to stop shifting, just the most extreme examples of it.
Plenty of reasons to not like Rob Manfred. These three issues are not among them.
i think weight training is the cause of many injuries. before the 1970’s or 1980’s players didn’t lift weights.
Baseball has always had a slow trigger finger when it came to making “adjustments” to the game. The sport is hemorrhaging fans, and is a non-entity to the youth market, as opposed to the NBA or NFL. We may not love everything, but we can give it a shot.
People say that the technology to properly call balls and strikes isn’t reliable or advanced enough to replace a human umpire.
People also say that self driving car technology IS reliable and advanced enough to replace a human driver.
Let me know when the computer can determine if the white ball goes over the stationary white plate before having them merge 3 tons of steel into highway traffic with hundreds of other cars…
It involves location of sensors to determine the passage of an object through a three dimensional space. A lot harder than you are aware of.
Harder than driving 65 mph over a bridge into a tunnel with dozens of 2 ton variables on all sides?
Time for new commish
Challenge system? You’d need like 50 challenges a game for certain umps… autocorrect wanted to put imps and that also fits the bill here.
Expansion Teams I would like to see
Yes, because there’s such an abundance of high-quality players that the MAJOR Leagues need to expand yet again.
Also need teams in: Nashville, TN; Portland, OR; Las Vegas, NV; Youngstown, OH; Caracas, VEN; Seoul, SO KO; Berlin, GER; Moscow, RUS; Havana, CU; and another one in Jacksonville, FLA because fans in Florida cannot get into see the Marlins and Rays as the tickets are always sold out,
Think of the expansion fees MLB can collect from all those cities! Then the US government can tax the fees and get 1.75 billion dollars, so that will allow them to spend another one trillion dollars!!!!
there are teams that can’t even fill the seats they have. no need to expand. ban public funding, the shift, bat flipping, taunting, chest pounding. run the bases after a home run, without all the extracurricular actions. expand the strike zone to middle of the knees to the armpits.
raise the seams on the ball for better grip, problem solved. remove the pitchers mound, pitchers and batters are then on equal footing.
It’s really a laugh that these superficial changes are what MLB thinks are needed to get young people to watch the game. Far more prohibitive to young people than the length of the game is the COST of watching the game IMO. The only reason I had cable as long as I did (finally cut the cord last year) was to watch my home team play baseball. Cable was way too expensive for 1,000 channels of ads, redundancy, and garbage, and buying into a streaming service for MLB was not cost-effective either because all the games I’d actually want to watch for my team are blacked out. So I get my baseball the old fashioned way: on the radio, where the price is right. Want to get more people to watch the game? Don’t make it so damned expensive to watch.
Auto strike zone is fine with me so long as they get it right and teams have the ability to go to human umpires for challenges or overruling, in the event there is an error.
Pick clock doesn’t bother me. Seems unnecessary and I don’t think it will truly speed up the game, but whatever. Do what you must I guess.
Get rid of the extra inning runner on 2nd crap. No one is baseball likes that rule AT ALL!!!
Expansion would be cool, but I have a hard time figuring where…. Seems the greater southeast would be the logical area from a revenue standpoint (other than the northeast which has too many teams packed in as is). Problem is, I don’t want it to take away from potential Braves fans. Lol. Idk where you place a team truly. Charlotte? Nashville? Jacksonville? Louisiana? Savannah? Maybe our west? Salt lake? Las Vegas? San Antonio? Oklahoma? Honestly, they should put it in Puerto Rico. I mean seriously, that should be a huge consideration. I bet you it explodes there. Maybe even a team in Mexico. Just saying …
Manfred makes $17.5 million a year?!?
I can guarantee there are dozens of people out there that would be better at his job for 1/10th the $.
Seniority should not be a factor in employment this day in age.
I thought I read that wrong since no one else was commenting on it. Not sure how his salary gets funded either. He is supposed to oversee a multi billion dollar business. It probably just seems outrageous because of the job is he isn’t doing.
For the love of the game use the ear piece and not a challenge system for balls and strikes
If you watched any college baseball, you would notice that the game is faster. You’ll also notice that the strike zone is bigger. Walks are boring. Walks and singles are the same thing. Make it harder to get a walk by expanding the strike zone.
Play in speedos is next.
Expansion ! OMG Get ready for 20 million a year pitchers with 5. ERA’s and 25 million for guys with a sub .200 BA.. There aren’t enough good ballplayers for the 30 teams right now.
We have small market teams who can’t compete now, solution…..water down the league even more with a few more teams, how about reducing the number of teams & making baseball competitive again
Anyone who hasn’t made up their mind about expansion should watch the Cubs/Reds and A’s/Mariners series this weekend, and start with the replay of last night’s 15-7 Cubs “victory”. The talent level of these teams suggest there just aren’t enough skilled professional baseball players to go around as it is. Expansion is only gonna make things worse. Also take a look at the number of regulars in the league this year whose BA begins with a one.
I was at the Orioles-Mariners game on Tuesday. Old school stat, but startling. 8 players in both teams starting lineups had sub .200 batting averages. I believe 3 players had OBPs over .300. It was the most boring live game I have ever witnessed. Orioles got one hit and Mariners score 2 on a Winker double.
Can we automate Rob Manfred’s job and send him packing?
Brockmire in real life.
Let just make it a DH Video Game. Where everything is the same and Automated. That sounds like a fun efficient 2.5 hours Max. Every GAME !
That’s exactly what this is. Sterile and efficient. Like a factory.
Rays lease doesn’t end until after 2027.. Probably won’t see teams added to MLB until 2028 the earliest. I’m thinking OAK & TB move to Las Vegas & Montreal respectively, with new teams added to Nashville & Charolette.
The Atlanta Braves will veto any attempt to put an expansion team in Nashville or Charlotte..
move the astros back to the nl, brewers back to the al. never should have been moved the first time.
You would still have 15 teams AL, 15 teams NL. Doesn’t solve any problem other than knee-jerk fan thinking.
the first knee jerk reaction came from baseball, not the fans. i just want it back the way it was
The current system with every umpire having a slightly different strike zone and with studies that have shown that there is a subconscious bias where the Yankees get, by far, the most beneficial calls and the Blue Jays get the the least calls is an unfair advantage. The goal should be players and teams getting a consistent and equal strike zone that is identical from game to game no matter what jersey you have on.
The players will love it because of its consistency instead of shaking their head at some of the bizarre calls they are currently getting.
Also it is crazy that umpires can make any brutal call they want and rule any way they want with zero accountability and complete impunity. I think they should be forced to do an after game press interview just like the Managers have to do and face questions about some of their agregious calls and decisions. Enough of their free pass on answering for their incompetence.
I work in public schools I constantly overhear the children say that if MLB instituted a pitch clock, added more teams to the post season, and started using an automated strike zone that they’d certainly start watching baseball. They’d also beg their parents to take them to games and buy as much MLB merch as possible.
Factor in a ball/strike challenge once per game. At least that way a critical point in the game won’t be determined by an obviously bad call.
As far as speeding up the game goes, why isn’t there a 5th umpire in the press box? I think it’s insane that an umpire has to go the dugout, put on a headset, place a call to NY, have them load and review the replay to make a decision that, the challenging dugout had right within seconds.
A 5th umpire could be watching the same live game feed as everyone else and know his decision BEFORE he even gets the call. Everyone else in the stadium has a cell phone, why doesn’t the crew chief?
It’s 2022! We don’t need umps calling balls and strikes.
In fact, an electronic strike zone would standardize the game, and bring out the best in players. Removing an umpire’s biases, moods, and simple poor eyesight allows players to determine the outcome, as it should be.
I’d vote no to robo umpires.
I would prefer that the leagues be more active in identifying mediocre strike/ball callers and either getting rid of them or training them up.
Players lose their jobs when they “miscalculate” a pitch too often. So should umpires.
Everything Manfred is doing is akin to what Gary Bettman has done in the NHL to try to improve scoring so people will watch because no one wants to watch a 0-0 tie, they’ve done everything short of putting a soccer sized net behind the Goalie. Baseball is dumbing itself down for this generation to the point where all strategy is gone, any subtle nuance is gone. Strikeouts and Home Runs and grown men jumping around like immature children are what the game has become.
Apparently the current rules are too hard to follow because for some idiotic reason Charlie Montoyo thought he could pinch run for the runner on second at the start of the bottom of the 10th inning in Toronto the other night.
Expansion is coming at some point. The league wants the infusion of new blood. Realignment into four four team divisions is almost certain. Where is the question. The A’s are not a lock for Las Vegas contrary to popular belief and MLB in general may not find a home there unless whoever buys in builds the stadium themselves. Nashville, Charlotte, San Antonio, Austin, Portland, Montreal (though tapping that well again may be futile), Vancouver, Buffalo, Memphis, all are speculative, some may be more probable than others. I do not see Mexico City as a serious possibility. Terrible economy, antiquated stadium (not likely to find much government assistance in building a new one) and other logistical problems would be a nightmare for MLB
I don’t necessarily mind the balls/strikes challenge system. I’ve seen some crazy calls this season and if I were a manager, I would like the ability to challenge some. However, robo-umps feeding info to the human ump is stupid.
Pitch clocks or any other rule that is put into place for the purpose of shortening the game is ridiculous. Manfred is trying to attract low attention span viewers who can’t sit still for 3 hours because they are too lazy to learn the nuances of the game. It’s the instant gratification generation who will never be diehard baseball fans regardless of the length of the game. And in the process, Manfred will lose loyal fans because of the drastic changes he is making.
Ghost runner? Please. Next will be pitching to your own team in extras.
I can’t wait for the game, in which a pitcher doesn’t get a strike called, immediately flips out and rants at the AI.
That will be worth the price of admission.
Just make the whole game played through AI. Then we don’t have to have star players getting injured every week. And the geeks running MLB can enjoy playing fantasy baseball with their FIP and WAR.
We need less teams, not more. We already have several existing markets that barely can support a team.
Want to speed up the game Rob M.?
1. How about cutting back on the number of commercials and breaks every half-inning?!! There’s no reason other than greed that there has to be a two to four (or five) minute commercial break every half-inning along with every pitching change. Hell, the networks are now running in-game commercials as it is between pitches. In addition, advertising is plastered every way you look on the TV screen and all over the ballpark.
2. Stop the over-managing of the game from the dugout! Limit the micro-managing of every move and pitch by these managers who seem to manage every inning as if it’s the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series. Let the players play the game of baseball!!
Stop expanding the number of playoff teams. It’s like giving out trophies or ribbons for participating. Make the regular season mean something instead of watering it down.
I think banning the shift is a bad idea, If these players are so good they can just hit the ball to the opposite field.
If you want an automated strike zone that works, don’t have Tesla design it.
Expansion should be put off until Oakland and Tampa get their stadiums in order, moreso the former.
make managers and coaches were the same uniform as players.
Bart Harley Jarvis
Anyone else hoping Rob Manfred was going to discuss early retirement or maybe running his car in the garage with the door shut? I’m just asking a question.
I’d rather they just get rid of pitch tracking technology and prohibit networks from displaying it. It’s only purpose is to project blame.
Agree 100 percent Sadler.
I’ve come to label him two strikes Tork, America is beyond ready for A.I. balls an strikes. The Astro no hit of the Yankees the other day highlighted it the best. Watching the strikes in the square called balls, made it seem like lie cheat an steal baseball, and made one wonder if betting was involved. Fix it already.
Better ideas come from the fans of MLBTR then MLB I think 4 o5 of us need to be put on the committee. The Challenge is, how do we kick the horrible umpires’ out. I believe in Unions. but poor is poor when dealing with the bad ones. Also, if we change too much, at a time, all the old guys like me leave from going to and watching games!
No automated zones. No enlarged bases. Yes to shift limits. No to Rob Manfred re-upping. Human judgement has always been part of the game. Adds intrigue and second guessing which is entertaining. They should eliminate the replay entirely. Especially since they get ot wrong in the NY office so often. And oh by the way No to the pitch communications system. Stealing signs is (without use of technology of course) is part of the game, not cheating. Anyone who played the game knows that.
Other ideas: banning walk up music and hoodies on players and coaches.
Banning coaches? That seems pretty extreme.
only ban belichek’s hoodie