Slightly over five years ago, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was sworn into office as baseball’s head honcho in January 2015, as the successor to Bud Selig after more than 16 years as the commissioner. The positional change was a welcomed look, as Manfred was an under-the-radar guy before his inauguration. However, five years into the new regime, it is clear to all baseball fans and followers that the executive board of the MBL had made the wrong decision.
Ludicrous Rule Changes
Manfred’s first kerfuffle with the MLB universe arose a couple of years ago with the introduction in-game timers that implemented a one minute and thirty second interval between innings and a timer of twenty seconds between pitches as well. While some may find the game to be slow-paced or dry at times, baseball was not a game designed to be played on a timer. That is one of the many qualities that is unique to only baseball. Beyond that, if a pitcher is in a jam in the final innings of a close game, and is having trouble communicating with his catcher or trying to regain his composure, yet is rushed because of a timer, it will completely reshape the outcome as opposed to playing without a “shot-clock”. Should the time tick down to zero, the pitch would automatically be ruled as a ball. Should this rule exist, the same should go for the batter: if the batter is not in the batter’s box within the same twenty seconds, it would be ruled as a strike against the batter. While these rules have not been integrated into the major leagues yet, they have been tested throughout the minor leagues. In another attempt to speed up the game of baseball, Manfred is mandating the three batter minimum rule – where a pitcher must face at least three batters in an appearance, or pitch until the end of a half-inning, barring no in-game injury or mishap. Manfred believes the decrease in pitching changes will advance the pace of play by a staggering six minutes – which in turn will surely fill Marlins Park to max capacity on a daily basis. While Manfred’s intentions are purely to increase the pace of the game, the timeless quality of the game is what makes baseball “America’s Pastime”. Introducing a timer like the NBA’s shot-clock is treasonous to the sport.
Inability to Lay Down the Law
Commissioner Manfred’s second, and most infamous blunder with the Baseball World, arose in the latter months of 2019 and carried into the 2020 pre-season: The Houston Astros 2017 World Series cheating scandal. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch, Red Sox Manager and former Astros bench coach Alex Cora, and former out-fielder Carlos Beltran, who is was just recently hired as the New York Mets Manager, were all fired from their respective positions in 2020. However, Manfred did not give the sentence, nor wield the sword for any of these charges, as these firings were conducted by each individual team’s executive boards. This was baseball’s BIGGEST scandal since the Chicago Black Sox accepted bribes to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. As a punishment, eight of the alleged members of the White Sox were banned from baseball for life. What makes the Astros scandal worse than the Sox is that they had cheated to win the world series, not lose it. Still, despite the outcry of many popular figures throughout the sport such as Hank Aaron, Fergie Jenkins, and Trevor Bauer to permanently ban Astros players Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Beltran, and others for life, the defendants shall only receive a slap on the wrist from Manfred. To add insult to injury, the Astros issued an absolutely pitiful press conference “apologizing” for their actions during the 2017 season. Astros chairman Jim Crane claimed their actions “didn’t impact the game,” and that they had won the World Series simply due to being a better team than their opponent, per NBC Sports. While their team was great on paper, they display true cowardice for evading their faults in committing a crime on a national platform. Following this, Bregman and Altuve spoke for about a staggering forty seconds each, which (essentially) sums up to: “we’re sorry for our actions, this is not who we are, we’re gonna play fair this year, go Astros… booyah.” The Houston Astros laughed in the faces of not only the MLB as an organization, but to baseball fans and players around the world, as they had successfully cheated their way to a World Series title with no repercussions. If you can’t do the time, don’t get caught I guess.
The More the Merrier!
The final flaw in Rob Manfred’s agenda arose just recently, with a revolutionary new playoff proposal: Fourteen teams in total should make it to the playoffs. This is one team shy of half the MLB. This new proposal would have the seven highest-seeded teams in each league make the playoffs, with the one seed getting a bye into the second round. This, in turn, would create three first round tilts in each league to determine who advances to the second round. While this does not sound groundbreaking, it is until you realize the No. 1 seed is permitted to pick who they play in the second round with a press conference on national television for the announcement – just to add some spicy drama to the mix. T-ball teams don’t even pick their playoff opponents, yet Rob Manfred thinks this will be a great idea for professional baseball. Along with this proposal, this new playoff system would effectively eliminate the one game wildcard as well. A team with a .500 record, under no circumstances, deserves to make the playoffs. The playoffs are meant for elite teams, rather than a club with a band of misfits who managed to find their way into the right locker room. If there is any aspect with the current MLB playoff bracket that could be worth critiquing is the Wild Card game, in which it could be transformed into a best-of-three series, rather than a single elimination. However, I myself love the current drama of the one game, winner takes all Wild Card round, as do many other fans. Current MLB players, celebrities, and fans have all cringed at this miserable proposal by Manfred, tweeting and posting videos across social media accumulating thousands of likes and comments – all of which bash the awful idea. So to all of my fellow baseball fans who value the current state of the playoff format, please cross your fingers in hope that this idea will be scrapped.
The Future of Baseball
To my displeasure, the popularity of America’s Pastime has dwindled over the past decade, with viewership, attendance, and overall interest in the game decreasing on a yearly basis. These blasphemous proposals submitted by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred will hurt not only the popularity of the game and draw more fans away from the sport, but destroy the game itself that has remained unaltered since its creation. Rather than let players express themselves more with custom cleats or accessories, or expand social media marketing to larger platforms, such as ESPN, Manfred continues to play with the structure of baseball like a child and his favorite toy. When you have iconic players, like Trevor Bauer, lashing out at these preposterous proposals, Cody Bellinger accusing Jose Altuve of robbing Aaron Judge from his MVP award in 2017 by cheating, and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron favoring the permanent dismissal of the convicts from the Astros scandal, something clearly is not working with your ideas and control over the league as the commissioner. I genuinely fear for the future of baseball under Rob Manfred with his laughable rule changes and his lack of disciplinary authority. His regime will cripple the sport for many years to come. All I want for Christmas, is for Rob Manfred to be impeached.