My Response to Commissioner Manfred

Over the weekend I received a surprising email from new Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. In the email he provided details on some of his ideas of how he will lead baseball in the post-Bud Selig era. I think it is only right that I should respond to his email.

Dear Commissioner Manfred,

Rob ManfredI just wanted to write and thank you for taking the time in your busy schedule to sit down at your computer and send me an email. I am really touched. You are the eighth Commissioner of Major League Baseball during my lifetime and the first to send me an email.

I should probably give Ford Frick, William Eckert, Bowie Kuhn, Peter Ueberroth, A. Bartlett Giamatti, and Fay Vincent a break. After all, I really didn’t start using email that much until after 1992 so maybe they wanted to reach out to me and didn’t have my email address. That doesn’t excuse Bud Selig though, he could have sent me an email and I would have gladly replied.

I’m not bitter though. I figured I didn’t vote for him to be Commissioner so I really shouldn’t expect him to send me an email. Come to think of it, I didn’t vote for you either (sorry nobody ever asked me and when I called the Arizona Secretary of State office to ask how I could register to vote for the Commissioner of Major League Baseball they just hung up on me. Maybe you could call Governor Ducey and see if you could straighten that out before the next commissioner vote). I would really appreciate it. Anyway, thanks for the note. I already like you.

I was excited to read that your top priority was to get more people to the games. I cannot tell you how many times at Chase Field I look around at the empty seats and wish someone would do something to get more people to attend games. Derrick Hall and the rest of the Arizona Diamondbacks do their best but for some reason people are more content to stay at home and watch games on television than go to the ballpark.

These people have no idea what they are missing. There is just something magical about walking through that turnstile and catching a whiff of fresh cut grass, roasted almonds from Cactus Corn, and grilled onions and peppers on a Hungry Hill fresh Italian sausage. I get that it can be kind of expensive to go to a game in person but take it from someone who attends 81 home games a season; it’s worth every penny.

I think what we need is some changes to the in-game experience to make it more compelling to be there in person. At home on television you have commentators that go through replays in super slow motion and tell you what a pitcher is throwing or where the hitter’s hot spots are. At the ballpark Major League Baseball has tied the hands of the clubs by not allowing replays to be shown on close plays or anything that starts at second base. It’s frustrating that I can go up on the concourse at Chase Field and see a reply from television but from my seat I am not allowed to see that.

I attend all of the home games but the away games are kind of a problem for me. I’d love to attend those in person but I’m married and she kind of draws the line at traveling out of state to watch even more baseball. As you might guess, when the team is out of town I still want to follow them but I might not be at home (my wife seems to think that for the other 81 games of a season we should do what she wants and strangely that doesn’t include sitting at home watching baseball). I don’t mind being out with my wife; sometimes I actually enjoy it (but don’t tell her that). The problem is that the places she makes me go don’t normally have televisions or if they do, they don’t get Fox Sports Arizona.

I have MLB.TV but there is some crazy blackout rule that says I am not allowed to watch the games even though I am not at home. Do you think it might be possible for you to see about eliminating this insane blackout rule at least for mobile devices so I can sneak a peek at the ballgame on my smart phone while still acting like I am interested in being at a fabric store with my wife. I think I speak for husbands everywhere when I say this is really important and may save countless marriages.

Speaking of the stadium experience, maybe you could have your people look into how the individual teams care for the baseballs that are used in the games. After all, your name is on every one of those balls so I would think you would like there to be some consistency in their condition.

As you know, Phoenix is the second highest stadium in Major League Baseball in altitude behind only Coors Field in Denver. The thin air from altitude coupled with the heat from the summertime in Arizona tends to dry everything out including baseballs. The results in a lot of cases are that balls fly out of there faster than Barry Bonds at a cream convention.

Do you think maybe you could institute a rule or policy or something that would require the use of a humidor in all of the stadiums to maintain a consistency in the moisture content of a baseball? For that matter, don’t you think it would be a good idea if you worked with Rawlings so that they could validate the consistency of the tightness of the windings, the thickness of the covers, etc. so that every ball in every stadium was the same?

I understand that every stadium is a little bit different but the equipment should be the same no matter where the game is played. It might help to balance the league offense and in the case of Arizona give the pitchers (home or visitor) a fighting chance.

I know you have a lot on your plate and that alone would take some doing but do you think maybe you could talk to the owners and the players association and see if they would consider eliminating the designated hitter? I’m sure the American League teams or fans might complain at first but we could compromise and add 4 or 5 more players to the roster. This would give more players the opportunity to play, would give managers additional weapons on the bench or in the bullpen, and possibly reduce the number of injuries over the course of a 162-game season.

And with that you could eliminate the September roster expansion. It always seemed a little weird that you would play an entire season to get to a post-season run then change the rules during the last month of the season.

Speaking as a fan of a medium market team, is there any way you can look at the amateur and international draft and find a better solution? If as you say the game is becoming more global why shouldn’t all players fall under a single draft? And let’s get rid of the compensation picks for losing a player. It’s not fair to the players who have picks tied to them. You could give additional picks between rounds but a team signing a player and the player himself should not be penalized.

Well, I should probably stop there. If every fan sent you a lengthy email like this you could spend your whole administration doing nothing but responding to email and as you have probably found out already, there is a lot that needs to be done to grow the sport we both love.

Thanks again for taking the time to write I really appreciate it. Next time you are in Phoenix and want to go to a game, send me a note. I would be happy to take you to a Diamondbacks game and we can hang out in Section 132 and talk about baseball. I look forward to seeing what you have in mind for the game and would be happy to help however I can.

Sincerely,
Jeff
Just a Guy from Section 132


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