Commissioner Rob Manfred took questions from the gathered press during the Cactus League’s annual Media Day, and not all of his answers instilled an overflowing sense of confidence or trust in the assembled media. After some of the comments he’s made so far this offseason, that probably shouldn’t be surprising.
From his statements, we found out some new things, confirmed some things that were confusing, and saw just how deep in denial Manfred is when it comes to teams tanking (and the way media is covering such tanking.) Here is everything we learned.
The league is still investigating balls
Yep, they’re still figuring out whether the balls are juiced or not. Can’t wait until all of the details about their balls are released for the public to read.
Rob Manfred said that results are forthcoming from a “postseason-long project involving independent experts” about the manufacture of baseballs. “At the conclusion of that project we’ll have information available.”— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) February 20, 2018
Manfred wants everyone to stop using the word “tanking”
Apparently, Manfred isn’t a big fan of people using “tanking” to describe what’s happening with multiple teams in the league, resorting to that old favorite of excuses — that this is “a cyclical sport.” Baseball writers and fans everywhere laughed.
Hey everybody, Rob Manfred wants to be an editor. I’d rather be commissioner myself. https://t.co/guk1E9RDRe— David Brown (@AnswerDave) February 20, 2018
neither do I; it would be great not to have to use it in reference to like 10 freaking teams https://t.co/PCweiCGFXx— Nathan Bernhardt (@jonbernhardt) February 20, 2018
[extremely Jeff Goldblum voice] Tanking is such a harsh word, I prefer "losing with benefits" https://t.co/aOU7QGyJk8— Marc Normandin (@Marc_Normandin) February 20, 2018
Boy do I have some bad news for the Commissioner https://t.co/8GwUDG5fJF— Nick Stellini (@StelliniTweets) February 20, 2018
During our Phils rebuild I have taken to calling it "strategically misplacing wins." He can borrow it if desired. https://t.co/WX8MkwOcBL— Analytics Plant (@AnalyticsPlant) February 20, 2018
How about "tankini"??? How does Manfred feel about that word? https://t.co/xq5WaB5str— Diane Firstman (@dianagram) February 20, 2018
How about "refusing to use redistributed luxury tax windfall on player salaries"? Cause that's real too! https://t.co/xq5WaB5str— Diane Firstman (@dianagram) February 20, 2018
About what was said yesterday in regards to pace of play changes ...
Is Manfred making this up on the fly? No, seriously, we’re asking. The league haphazardly vomited those changes out Monday with little to no clarity or context, and now he’s trying to provide that clarity on the fly.
On Monday, it appeared that should a seventh mound visit be attempted by teams this season — exceeding the newly imposed limit of six — the visit would just be disallowed by the umpire. Which sounds like it could lead to some hilarious misunderstandings. But now, apparently a seventh mound visit requires a pitching change ...
What happens with the seventh mound visit? Penalties? Manfred: “There has to be a pitching change. That’s the only way they can go to the mound again. That’s what happens.”— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) February 20, 2018
... but only if it’s by a manager or a coach ...
Joe Torre just clarified that a player visit to the mound (catcher, position player, et al) cannot trigger an automatic pitching change (if a team already has 6 visits). In that case the umpire will have to stop said mound visit— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) February 20, 2018
7th mound visit requires a pitching change, commissioner Manfred said. But it has to be a manager or pitching coach. If player or catcher tries to go out for 7th visit he will be stopped.— Julian McWilliams (@JulianMack105) February 20, 2018
... or a catcher?
Commissioner Rob Manfred just said that if a catcher or coach makes a 7th visit, there would have to be a pitching change.— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) February 20, 2018
Okay great. Glad that’s all clarified.
Pace of play changes are only here because of the broadcast audience
This particular reveal was something many people following the sport could have already guessed, but Manfred laid it out clearly for everyone. The new pace of play rules are catering to those sitting at home watching on TV. That makes sense if you care about your broadcast dollars and makes less sense if you care about what all of your fans want.
But the league says it came to that conclusion based on its own research, so it must be true.
Wrigley Field is probably getting the All-Star Game, maybe
The balls investigation isn’t the only one the league has going on right now
Who leaked Shohei Ohtani’s medical records this winter? The league still has no clue who did, but it’s hard at work figuring it out. Manfred said, “We have not been able to do that (find leak). But we have not given up.”
He might have let slip some details about the A’s new stadium
Manfred visited a potential stadium site, near Howard Terminal, and “remains optimistic” that a deal can go through. Despite various issues — such as transportation — that need to be handled first.
But is he more optimistic than he’s letting on? Hmmmm ...