Commissioner Rob Manfred (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Speaking at the general managers’ meetings Tuesday morning, Major League Baseball
commissioner Rob Manfred touched on a variety of subjects currently impacting the game.
Included in the conversation was the topic of whether or not netting would be implemented in stadiums after numerous incidents this past season in which fans were severely injured by flying equipment.
Manfred pointed out, however, that there is no guarantee any changes will be made to the areas closest to home plate.
“I think as you go out and look at ballparks it becomes evident that a simple, uniformed net to the edge of the dugout is not workable given the variation in the designs of the stadium,” he said. “It’s going to be a little more complicated than that if in fact we move ahead. We’re going to have a full conversation about this at the owners’ meeting next week. I don’t want to prejudge the outcome beyond that. But I do think a simple rule is probably difficult given the variations that exist in our stadiums.”
– Manfred was very adamant that the strike zone, as it is being called, is more satisfactory that it’s ever been thanks to improved technology.
“The umpires calling of the strike zone is probably more consistent that it’s ever been in the history of the game,” Manfred said. “I think the application of technology, going back to when Sandy Alderson was running the umpiring department, has overall time brought consistency in that area.
“The issue of the affect on offense, what I said at the beginning of the year was that I thought we needed, before we made a judgement and started talking about changes, another year of data. Every once in a while even I get to be right. What I mean by that was that we had a really interesting uptick in offense late in the year this year. A increase in scoring. We’re not going to jump too quickly on this one. We really want to understand what’s happening in the game. Our game is too great to be willy-nilly making changes thinking you’re going to address a problem that may not be a problem at all.”
– Manfred is still supportive of the qualifying offer system, which is in it’s fourth offseason:
“We were trying to identify a group of players that were significant enough where the loss merited the team that lost the player getting compensation, and that the player would be in high enough demand that the compensation availability would not ruin his market,” Manfred noted. “The fact that players who say, ‘No,’ go out into the market and get contracts even though the signing club has given up a draft choice kind of says to me we got it right. I don’t think you need somebody to accept. I think that so far we have successfully identified a group of players who were significant losses to the teams they were leaving and were high enough quality that they could bear the burden of draft choice compensation in the market and still get a good contract.”
– In regards to the news that Colorado shortstop Jose Reyes has been arrested for domestic abuse, Manfred cited the recently-implemented domestic violence policy (enacted in August).
“We felt good about the policy when we negotiated it. This will be the first test, and I think it will stand the test,” he said.
Here are the guidelines of the policy:
The Commissisoner’s Office will invesigate all allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse involving members of the baseball community. The Commissioner may place an accused player on paid administrative leave for up to seven days while allegations are investigated. Players may challenge any decision before the arbitration panel.
The Commissioner will decide on appropriate discipline, with no minimum or maximum penalty under the policy. Players may challenge such decisions to the arbitration panel.
Training, Education and Resources:
All players will be provided education about domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse in both English and Spanish at regular intervals. Resources to players’ families — including referral information, websites, hotline numbers and outreach facilities — will be made available, along with a confidential 24-hour helpline.
An annual program of community outreach will be developed. It may include public service announcements featuring players, domestic violence awareness days at ballparks and other activities designed to spread awareness on the issues.
– Manfred insisted MLB is doing everything it’s power to stay ahead of possible advances in performance enhancing drug use.
“We are constantly vigilant on the issue of the using of performance-enhancing drugs. It’s not just that we have a testing program that’s now on auto-pilot. We spend an inordinate amount of time working with groups to make sure we know what is the very latest developments that are going on in respect to performance-enhancing drugs. I don’t know how to say it more clearly is that whether or not we have an uptick in offense, we are constantly vigilant on this topic.”