New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred apparently doesn't like baseball very much.
A look at his ideas on how to better the game suggests that Manfred believes baseball's biggest (or at least most pertinent) problem is too much baseball. Let's get the games and the season over and done with shall we? This whole baseball thing can be so boring.
There are too many games, and the games are so long. Also, those pesky shifts stop guys from scoring sometimes. With how long the games and seasons are (according to Manfred) he must be remarkably bored with all that defense and strategy as it stretches on for hours and hours and months and months.
According to Manfred, you absolutely can have too much of a good thing. And that's what baseball fans are currently getting, so maybe if we take some of it away from them, other people will like this thing we love. You know, maybe.
On the other hand, maybe the new commish is secretly an informant on behalf of talk radio producers in the Denver area or around the country who view the baseball season largely as a distraction between NFL seasons. Cut the season down to 154 games so we can get out of the way of the big boys at the end of the year?
Maybe he thought for a moment he was actually appointed commissioner of the NBA, where such an idea is desperately needed. That must be it. He's just confused.
By making his first primary focus improving pace-of-play (or pace of season) issues Manfred has shown us his opinion on the most pressing problems facing baseball today. In a roundabout way, Manfred has given credence and legitimacy to an infuriating line of thought that has plagued diehard baseball fans for decades: It's somehow boring.
What does that person who doesn't understand why you like baseball so much always say to you? "It's so boring." Well, Manfred seems to agree and he is on a mission to do something about it. Maybe those people will like baseball more if we tailor it to their "busy" schedules and "hectic" lives.
Baseball is not for the busy and hectic. Baseball is literally timeless.
Okay, this is all a bit tongue-in-cheek. But it sure seems odd that the most prevalent thoughts in the mind of the guy who has been in charge of baseball for about twelve minutes are centered on the notion that the game, as it currently exists, is somehow an inconvenience. It's too long, the season goes on too long, and there isn't enough offense.
And that's the rub; I do not believe Manfred is addressing the most pressing concerns of the game (say ... I don't know ... umpires) but is instead focused a bit too much on how to not be off-putting, which can feel (even if it was not the original intention) a bit insulting for those of us who love the game how it is.
I am firmly on record that I don't think pace-of-play issues should be a top concern for baseball. I would rather he be not-at-all concerned with the level of offense in the game. I actually agree with the general consensus that the new rules are perfectly reasonable. But for me, they better be the end and not the beginning.
The talk of furthering these ideas, and the fact that they are experimenting with clocks in minor league ball has me in a state of dread for the future of our pastime.
I'd rather have steroids, and I mean it (maybe the only part of this article I mean every word of): I would rather Rob Manfred personally distribute steroids to all the hitters in MLB, while at the same time making the punishment for any pitcher who takes steroids a lifetime ban, as a way of increasing offense than to put clock into major league games.
And that's coming from a guy who couldn't be much more anti-steroids.
So far, there is little to be worried about in terms of what Rob Manfred has actually accomplished. But worry about his motives and how he views the game naturally creep up for many when he starts talking about fundamental alterations to the product in order to solve a problem many hardcore fans don't believe exists to begin with.
If Manfred doesn't start doing and saying some things about how to add to the game rather than subtract from it, then I might actually start believing that Rob Manfred doesn't really like baseball very much.