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MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred hints at the end of streaming blackouts and more
In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr., Rob Manfred hinted at a lot of on-field reforms that he would like to see in the Majors in the near future ranging from the possibility of having robot umpires, end of streaming blackouts, and an
The 63-year-old MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr who is now in his eighth year at the helm of MLB, insists that he wants to save baseball, despite the fact that many of his detractors are convinced that the labor-lawyer-turned-commissioner is bored by baseball, is killing baseball and is only interested in baseball to make his rich bosses richer.
In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr., Rob Manfred hinted at a lot of on-field reforms that he would like to see in the Majors in the near future ranging from the possibility of having robot umpires, end of streaming blackouts, and an increased amount of teams. Manfred apparently wants to see the change by the 2024 season, with the possibility of giving managers several challenges for calls during a game.
In 2024, Manfred says, the automated ball-strike zone system, or as it's commonly called, "robot umpires," will likely be introduced. One possibility is for the automated system to call every pitch and transmit the balls and strikes to a home plate umpire via an ear piece. Another option is a replay review system of balls and strikes with each manager getting several challenges a game. The system is being tested in the minor leagues and has shaved nine additional minutes off the average game length this season, MLB data shows. "We have an automated strike zone system that works," Manfred says.
One of the other major headlines that came out of the interview was Manfred hinting at MLB's often-criticized blackouts, in which streaming fans are forbidden from watching games involving teams from their local markets. The commissioner claimed MLB is keen to phase the practice out:
"Our No. 1 business priority right now is reach," Manfred says. The topic was a main discussion at an owners meeting in June. "Believe me," he says, "we hate blackouts as much as fans do." Manfred notes that the blackout clauses are written into broadcast deals — which he has overseen — but he says it's now a "top priority" for MLB to phase them out.
In the ESPN interview, Manfred hinted at the possibility of future expansion franchises by saying that he "would love to get to 32 teams."
MLB, Pete Rose and Gambling
Additionally, in the interview, Manfred responded to the recent news that Pete Rose has reportedly submitted a third petition for reinstatement and his lawyers are arguing that the lack of repercussions for the Houston Astros demonstrates Rose has been treated unfairly. Manfred is apparently willing to hear Rose out:
"Rule 21, the gambling prohibition, is regarded to be the most important rule in baseball," Manfred said. "It is the bedrock of ensuring that our fans see fair, all-out competition, unaffected by any outside forces, on the field." He says he will hear Rose out. "Pete will be given an opportunity to come in and be heard, if that's what he wants to do, before I make a decision," Manfred says.
As we have already started to see, MLB has recently embraced gambling as well, which could be another boon for Rose's argument. However, it could be the reason for enforcing an even stronger firewall between players and gambling.