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Meet the new boss: Manfred takes over as commissioner


Astros’ fans worldwide breathed a sigh of relief as Allan “Bud” Selig’s tenure as commissioner of Major League Baseball came to an end this weekend. As a fan of the hometown nine … and of baseball in general, here’s how I — and most Astros’ fans — feel as we see Bud leaving the building:

Gone is the man who moved Astros’ home games to Milwaukee vs. the “visiting” Cubs in the middle of a playoff race.

Gone is the man who convinced Drayton McLane Jr. (and apparently no other owner) that suggested slot values for draft picks were more than a polite suggestion.

Gone is the man who would not let the Astros close the roof during Games 3 and 4 of the 2005 World Series.

Gone is the man who forced the Astros’ move to the American League.

Gone is the man who foisted his buddy Cecil Cooper on the Astros.

Gone is the man who ignored steroids, cancelled a World Series, made the All-Star Game matter in ways that it should not … but let one end in a tie.

Gone and good riddance.

As Bud grabs his box of old photos and steals his favorite Swingline stapler, we all welcome Rob Manfred.

At least we did until he opened his mouth. Manfred, in case you’ve avoided the internet the last few days, said he’d like to make defensive shifts against the rules, is a big fan of the pitch clock and, I’m sure, kicks puppies.

Meet the new boss, inept as the old boss

So, the only good news, I think, is that Manfred is signed on for a five-year stint. With luck, he’ll start a lot of blue ribbon commissions that accomplish nothing. At this point, that’s the best I think we can hope for.

But with the job opening in five years, I think it’s time we all start polishing our resumes and thinking about our interviews for the job. So, pretend it’s 2019, and the Astros, fresh off their third straight World Series win, are the talk of baseball. And, according to an article by Tom Verducci, it’s the sages of Chipalatta that provided the wisdom Jeff Luhnow needed to develop the winning roster. With this news in hand, the owners have decided to hand the job of Commissioner over to someone at Chipalatta. Maybe it’s you. So, what are the priorities you’ll push as you interview for the job.

Here’s a few topics:

  1. The DH — Leave it alone, put it in both leagues or make the pitchers hit?
  2. If the DH thing is settled, do the Astros go back to the NL, or does it matter?
  3. Does the All-Star Game really need to matter this much?
  4. What is your number one priority when it comes to negotiating with the MLBPA and getting a new CBA between the union and the owners? Better drug testing? Revenue sharing? Salary caps? Expanded playoffs?
  5. Would you expand the playoffs to eight teams? Set a Wild Card round that’s Best of Three with the top two division winners getting a bye with a six-team per league playoff?
  6. Expansion? If so, what cities are most deserving?
  7. How do you feel about replay? Keep it? Trash it? Expand it?
  8. How do you feel about a pitch clock? Or defensive shifts?
  9. Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame?
  10. What else would you change? What should be fought for to keep as is?

Finally, do you get a permanent box at the Juice Box where all Chipalatta commenters are always welcome?

What would you do as commissioner? Are you happy with Manfred, or just willing to give him a chance?

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About BrianT

Brian Todd is a freelance writer working and living in Rochester, Minn.

31 comments on “Meet the new boss: Manfred takes over as commissioner

  1. SargeH
    January 27, 2015

    I certainly hope that Manfred becomes a much better commissioner than Selig could have ever thought he could have been. He is just stepping out so we must allow him an opportunity to become what we, as baseball purist, wish him to be.

    The inquiries:

    1.The DH — Leave it alone, put it in both leagues or make the pitchers hit?

    I prefer to have the pitchers hit. However, seeing the clearing among the trees in the forest, I do want as many people to have a job as possible and, seeing as the DH was installed to allow an “aging” player to be on a team when he had no fielding skills, with this in mind, keep the DH in the league and expand it. Ugh! Can’t believe I actually wrote that out loud.

    2.If the DH thing is settled, do the Astros go back to the NL, or does it matter?

    The Houston club was moved under the disguise of balancing the schedule so an additional two teams could make the playoffs. So, as a baseball fan, leave them be. As a Houston Astros’ fan, move them back to the National League!!! I miss seeing the Reds, Cardinals, Dodgers, Braves, Giants, etc.

    3.Does the All-Star Game really need to matter this much?

    The All-Star game is an exhibition game. It needs to return to that status.

    4.What is your number one priority when it comes to negotiating with the MLBPA and getting a new CBA between the union and the owners? Better drug testing? Revenue sharing? Salary caps? Expanded playoffs?

    My priority is the salary cap. My gosh! Players are insanely paid now. I know the salaries are market driven but this is ridiculous!

    5.Would you expand the playoffs to eight teams? Set a Wild Card round that’s Best of Three with the top two division winners getting a bye with a six-team per league playoff?

    I am assuming the question of playoff expansion is asking for eight teams per league. A resounding NO! That would push the playoffs into November… TOO COLD! Just add a best-of-five series among the wild card teams and move on.

    6.Expansion? If so, what cities are most deserving?

    No to expansion. Just a few years ago the league was seriously discussing shutting down the Twins, the Expos, the Marlins. On the other hand, if expansion were to work, I would suggest New Orleans, San Antonio, Charlotte, and Las Vegas.

    7.How do you feel about replay? Keep it? Trash it? Expand it?

    Replay is great! I would begin to look at the home plate pitch calls. Too many variances with individual strike zones.

    8.How do you feel about a pitch clock? Or defensive shifts?

    No pitch clock but keep the batter more engaged in the box. I believe the batter stepping out after each pitch and nervously readjusting their helmet, gloves, etc. is just too much. I know it is a nervous thing but come on man! Regarding the shifts, they are fine.

    9.Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame?

    PUT…. PETE… IN… Charlie Hustle should be in there.

    10.What else would you change? What should be fought for to keep as is?

    I would realign the entire league to allow for better travel schedules. No more Houston going to the west coast so often. The Astros should be in a central division.

    Like

    • BrianT
      January 27, 2015

      Sarge, along with setting the salary cap, I’d also institute rules on the owners on ticket prices, so they aren’t using the lower salaries as an excuse to line their pockets. Thereby giving the average fan a chance to take the family to more games.

      And I love your realignment idea.

      Like

  2. 1oldpro
    January 27, 2015

    *I think the league would be better off if it were uniform on the DH, one way or another. I personally prefer the DH.
    *I would prefer the Astros to stay in the AL. One day, when both teams are good, the Astros vs Rangers will be a terrific rivalry, the best we’ve ever experienced.
    *I think the All-Star Game lost it’s luster when free agency robbed the league of the special relationship the fans had with their hometown heroes. It’s advantage over the other major sports is that the players still can play the game hard because they’re not afraid of getting hurt.
    *I think some kind of salary cap would be appropriate, but I don’t think it’s possible because the bed is made already w/ long term deals.
    *I like the playoffs now because there is a short bye for the best teams to gain an advantage w/ their pitching rotations. You should never make a baseball team idle for more than the wild card game, though. Not more teams! the season is long enough.
    *Expansion. No!
    *Replay? Keep it
    *Go back to the older rules about players in the batter’s box and set the rules and let the umps enforce them. No time clock. A few balls and strikes being called in Spring training will start the process and have the players complying soon.
    *I personally would let Rose be eligible for a HOF vote and let the voter’s decide.
    Players who juiced cheated the game of a lot more integrity than Rose’s gambling did and the only penalty they have paid is by the HOF vote. I say give Rose the same chance.
    *I would change a hateful commissioner being allowed to tell the home team whether to open their roof or not. That just astounds me.

    Like

    • Chip Bailey
      January 27, 2015

      I’ll just piggy back on some of your thoughts since they’re pretty good.

      * Yes, on standardizing the DH. Doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to have two different rules, espeically when those teams are now playing each other regularly.
      * Yes, also, on the salary cap. You can argue the horse is out of the barn, but with all the smart math and stats guys, you can phase it in. But, one of the things that kills teams more than anything is those guaranteed salaries. I’m all for being fair to the players, but the long-term deals are just silly and teams — especially those that can’t afford it — are handcuffed. Yes, they bring it on themselves, but no sense paying a player if he ain’t performing or even playing! Does any other sport do that?
      * Yes, on Rose. Never, ever understood why he got or accepted a lifetime ban. And, you’re right, a lot of bigger offenders have gotten far less punishment. He’s probably too old now, but I’m sure there’d be a team who gave him a shot as a manager.
      * Still not a fan of the one-game playoff/play in. Wish it were 2 out of 3, but agree you don’t want to give the top teams too long of a layoff that it becomes a detriment to win your division. Shooting from the hip here, but I wouldn’t mind exploring going back to a 154-game schedule to add a few more playoff games though.

      Like

  3. BrianT
    January 27, 2015

    One of my favorite things from Manfred this weekend was his insistence that more offense is what the fans are clamoring for.

    Really? Ever sat through a no-hitter? It’s riveting. Try it once, Manfred.

    Like

    • Larry Leach
      January 27, 2015

      Brian, you’ve nailed the problem with these commissioners. They have likely never sat through a no-hitter or for that matter even played little league baseball in their youth. Their life was toward law school and its’ rewards in the business world. I truly don’t think they come to the position with a life long love of the game and its’ history. It’s our reality when only a Drayton McClain type can afford to own these teams and of course they feel comfortable with the legal intellectuals like Selig to be the Commissioner. In my world, I would prefer someone who has a strong lifetime connection with baseball to be CEO and let them then hire the best lawyers for legal advice and needs. For instance ( and I’m prejudiced), Larry Diercker, who has an historical love of the game with his experience as a player, manager and overall feel for the history of baseball.

      Like

      • BrianT
        January 27, 2015

        I’ve seen two no-hitters, both pitched by the same MLB pitcher, but long before he made it to The Show.

        Gregg Olson no-hit my Little League all star team when I was 12, ending our run to Williamsport at 2 games. Sigh.

        As a senior in high school (by this time we were friends) he no-hit our school’s opponent in the state championship game. Yeah, let that sink in.

        Some kid (probably named Lowrie) tried bunting his way on in the bottom of the final inning. Gregg slipped coming off the mound, but the guy slipped out of the batter’s box. Gregg fired a heater to first and nailed him by a step.

        Hardly any offense, one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen.

        Like

  4. Dan P
    January 27, 2015

    Nicely done Brian T – good subject.
    Charlie Palillo – local radio who actually talks intelligently about baseball had an interesting view on the shift controversy. He said he was betting it was a reaction to the declining hitting and scoring in baseball the last few years.

    That sends a bit of a chill through me – because it was baseball’s desire for more scoring that led to ignoring the PED scandal as it developed.
    Questions
    1. The DH — At this point I say – put it in both leagues. I want to see pitchers hit again like I want to see Tom Brady play QB and LB when I go to a football game.
    2. Astros go back to the NL, if the DH is settled – I am more disturbed by West vs. Central – they just do not belong in the Western division of either league – they should be part of the central time zone – not two time zones away
    3. The All-Star Game – The two other major sports know that their version of the All Star game is an exhibition. The baseball All-Star game is still an exhibition with a ridiculous payback to the winning league. It is played like an exhibition – you don’t leave Kershaw in there for 8 innings for instance – but has a real life tilt on the home field for the WS. Silly. Change it.
    4. What is your number one priority when it comes to negotiating with the MLBPA – Sure I’d love to see a mlb salary cap but it is almost like uninventing the nuclear bomb – the MLBPA has no interest in that. Perhaps the only chip you could throw out there would be to require a team by team payroll floor along with a cap. Yes – Jim Crane and the owners of the Marlins and others would faint over that.
    5. Would you expand the playoffs to eight teams – If they do that – this needs to be the last expansion. Even though it is exciting – I think the one and done wild card round is very unfair for a sport where teams make the playoffs based on 5 man pitching staffs. Need to at least be a 3 game playoff.
    6. Expansion? 32 would seem to be a nice number – then you would not have to have an interleague game every day of the season. Could baseball be “out there” and be the first major sport in Las Vegas? Baseball just indicated they are interested in trying Montreal again. You would think Mexico would be a consideration – but security issues might stop that. Other thoughts might be San Antonio, OKC, Memphis, Portland…
    7. How do you feel about replay? I want to see it speed up before it expands. I think there needs to be some standardization on camera placements too.
    8. Pitch clock? Instead – limit the times the batter can step out and adjust his batting gloves that are not going anywhere. Limit the visits from the catcher to the pitcher. Defensive shifts? It is kind of like freedom of speech – I may not like them (the over-use of them) but I defend to the death your right to use them.
    9. Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame? If he bet against his team he should never get in – if he bet on them he should be taken out back and given 1000 lashes from a mullah and let in.
    10. What else would you change? What should be fought for to keep as is?
    – Spring training is too long – way too much time and too many games.
    – How about – if someone is put on the 40 man but is not brought up within 1 year – they are eligible for Rule 5
    – Here is one for the next MLBPA negotiations – You have a combine like the nfl does with physicals for potential high draft choices.
    – More will come to me I’m sure

    Like

  5. daveb
    January 27, 2015

    As much as I prefer the National League version of the game, the DH really has not had any huge impact on the way I enjoy the game. One way or the other, it’s time for MLB to have one rule, and the Players Union will continue to argue on behlaf of the DH rule.

    I don’t see the Astros moving back to the NL at any point soon. Maybe expansion will someday make it an option, but I would not count on it. Regardless, we’ll probably see the DH in both leagues before another expansion.

    The MLB All Star game still remains the best of its kind in professional sports. I do not believe however that the outcome should detemine home field advantage in the World Series.

    The issue of performancing enhancing drugs should remain a number one priority. The Players Association should understand that for the credibility of the game, the testing program needs to continue to grow and keep up with the inevitable new forms of cheating that will always come along. We’ll probably see it at some point soon, but I do not need an expanded playoff concept.

    Replay is working better than I thought it would. But I would never want to see it expanded to include balls and strikes.

    Shifts are a legal part of the game. Leave it fully alone. No to the clock.

    At this point, I’d put Rose in the Hall.

    Keep the beer under ten bucks.

    Like

  6. 1oldpro
    January 27, 2015

    Eric Huysman has a terrific set of short interviews of Luhnow pertaining to his moves made this offseason. Done this past weekend at the Fanfest, they are very informative and timelines the various deals he made.
    One of the briefest, but most telling things he said was that signing Lowrie was a move made because of his desire to add “bats” to the infield. So I’m sure that in using the plural “bats” explains the Valbuena move.
    Luhnow’s comments on Straily indicates his interest in that particular player that began two years ago.
    He also mentioned that he held Straily’s name back until the last minute in the deal and that a local blogger brought Straily’s name up in an article and Luhnow commented how that mention made him cringe. I’m sure he was kidding, but it’s interesting that he did comment on local blogs and how the Astros must actually read them.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      January 27, 2015

      Oh yeah, that is on Climbing Tal’s Hill. Sorry

      Like

  7. Kevin
    January 27, 2015

    You all have covers it pretty well.

    1 I thought moving to the AL/DH would suck. The old fan in me , double switch, PH, Sac Bunt, but I have to say now when I watch pitchers bat, idiotic waste of time.

    2. I don like all the later games on the west coast, but I agree I like us and rangers in the same division, and I like the quality of teams in the west.

    3. Don’t see a salary cap any time soon.

    4. Pete Rose should be in the HOF, he’s paid his dues for a bonehead decision.

    5 I know “m in a minority, but I like the All Star game meaning something, It’s now the only one i will watch.

    6. I’m not sure how, but man they have to speed the game up, we are losing the next generation of baseball junkies like us

    Like

  8. Mr. Bill
    January 27, 2015

    The new commissioner could establish a pay grade system for major league ballplayers once they reach what is now their first year of arbitration eligibility. Once assigned a pay grade, a player would stay in that pay grade for three years. The first year he would get paid the minimum for that pay grade. If his overall stats rank him in the top 20% of players in that pay grade at his position in a given year that is not his reassignment year, the next year he gets a 5% bonus. If his overall stats rank him in the bottom 20% for his position in a given year that is not his reassignment year, he will get a 5% dock in pay for the next year. If he falls in the middle 60%, his pay the next year remains the same as in the previous year. After three years, he will be reassigned a classification by the commissioner based upon an evaluation of his last three years of performance, with double weight assigned to the last of the three years.

    Arbitration and free agency would be a thing of the past.

    The next phase of price control and evening out of talent would be to put a cap on the number of ‘Class A’ players [franchise types] and Class B players [upper echelon players that do not meet franchise player standards ] that each franchise can have each year. If a team winds up with more than the assigned number of Class A or Class B players, it has to select one and auction him off to the highest bidder among teams having an open slot for a player of that class.

    The third phase would be to classify the GMs, assistant GMs, and Managers’ salaries under a similar kind of production-based classification/pay grade system.

    Like

  9. Mr. Bill
    January 27, 2015

    The fourth phase would be to set reasonable price caps on what ballparks can charge for single game seats, hot dogs, nachos, and soft drinks. Come on Commissioner – let’s make this game family friendly again!

    Like

    • BrianT
      January 27, 2015

      Affordable for families? No, a pitch clock is the answer for building a fan base.

      Like

    • BrianT
      January 27, 2015

      Mr. Bill, you move to the finalist list for next commish.

      Like

  10. Devin_
    January 27, 2015

    My advice? Keep It Simple, Stupid.

    This is baseball we are talking about. Don’t try to manufacture excitement. Make it an even playing field by continuing to eliminate PEDs (including Adderall). Find a way to equalize national TV coverage to reduce the incentive to play for NY, Bos, or LA.

    Start playoff games earlier so my kids can watch them!

    Donate more time and resources to growing the game at the youth level. Work with the MLBPA to force all players to contribute in that area.

    Like

  11. Mr. Bill
    January 27, 2015

    How about this approach to the All-Star Game. The team winning the game gets nothing but bragging rights. The host city contributes a pot of $100,000.00 from the gate receipts, and that pot goes as a bonus to the one stand-out player whom the fans watching the game select as the game’s Most Valuable Player. Voting would be by text, etc., using rules patterned after the American Idol television show. Voting would begin at the first note of ‘God Bless America’ during the seventh inning stretch and would conclude exactly five minutes after the last out is recorded. Let America make the call!

    Like

    • Devin_
      January 27, 2015

      …and your 2015 All Star game MVP is…Derek Jeter!

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        January 27, 2015

        The plain truth is that it really doesn’t matter who wins the MVP bonus, or how much baseball people think he or someone else deserves it. The strategy is to make the game interesting and exciting, and to get real people – especially young fans – watching and participating in the voting.

        Like

      • Mr. Bill
        January 27, 2015

        Another way to do it would be for the $100,000 to go to a charity of the MVP selectee’s choice, in the city in which he plays.

        Like

  12. Mr. Bill
    January 27, 2015

    Regarding Pete Rose. Charlie Hustle is a significant part of baseball’s story. His story, if not the typical bronze plaque, should be memorialized at Cooperstown. Perhaps an exhibit could be made for great teams/dynasties of the past, and his story could be included in the story of the Big Red Machine. That way his all-time hit leader stats and ‘hustle’ approach could be lauded in its proper context – i.e. in the context of a great baseball team whose winning record his betting scandal has nothing to do with.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mr. Bill
    January 27, 2015

    Regarding the DH. Institute a modified DH rule in both leagues. In each game, each team can choose to have a DH hit for the pitcher on two, but only two occasions [unless there are extra innings, in which case the DH is automatically substituted]. In a regulation game, that would mean that a pitcher is going to hit at least once for each side. This leaves room for NL strategies, while also limiting useless at bats to a minimum.

    Like

  14. Mr. Bill
    January 27, 2015

    Regarding pitch clocks, if they are instituted, apply them [a] in the first five innings only [it takes five innings to make a game legal in case of rain], and [b] only when the bases are empty. The same should hold true for rules about time spent in the batters box between pitches. This is a compromise approach, obviously, designed to let the critical moments of the game remain ‘traditional’.

    Like

  15. Mr. Bill
    January 27, 2015

    Replay really slows everything down. I would do away with replay altogether. Part of the history and flair of the game is for fans – and occasionally players and managers – to get mad at, second-guess, make fun of, and blame losses on, the umpire[s]. This is not rocket-science – and no world wars are going to be won or lost as a result of even the most horrendous bad call. This is just baseball – and we have to have someone official-looking at whom to yell things like: ‘Open your eyes, ump, you’re missing a great game!” After all, look what mileage we on this blog got out of blaming poor Bud Selig [bite my tongue] for all the stuff listed in paragraphs 2-7 of Brian’s excellent blog.

    Like

    • SargeH
      January 27, 2015

      Mr. Bill, Yes, this is just a game but, millions of dollars in the economies of the cities that host a team are affected. The players receive bonuses that are spent in the communities and the teams get bonuses while in playoffs which, in turn, are spent in the communities. Then, on the emotional side, players that are on the wrong end of a bad call can get down upon themselves and drag the rest of the team down. Fans who see consistently bad calls would quit going to the games stating they are rigged. Honestly, you would not get upset if your home team lost the playoffs because of an incorrect call at first base when the entire stadium and television audience could see that the call was incorrect?

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        January 27, 2015

        I get upset about wars and women and children being deliberately targeted by terrorists, Sarge. I take a deep breath, grimace, and shake my head over bad calls. Plus, we have learned from pro football that replays are in the eye of the beholder. Ask Dez Bryant.

        Like

  16. rj
    January 27, 2015

    hoorah Bagwell is back with the team!!!

    Like

    • SargeH
      January 27, 2015

      Happy days!

      Like

  17. astrocolt45
    January 27, 2015

    Concerning the alignment and travel issue. Six teams WAY Out West. Then Arizona and Colorado. That means two other teams have to travel that way. I don’t see anyway around it unless you want to add two teams like in Las Vegas or San Jose. The rest can be done by NE, SE, NC, Midwest or something.

    Like

  18. Tim
    January 27, 2015

    I will touch on a few subjects. First, I used to be strongly opposed to the DH, but have come to accept and appreciate it. The DH is used as far down as high school baseball. It is a big part of the game and it should be universal in MLB.

    I also feel Pete Rose should be in the HOF, but he should go in after Shoeless Joe. Jackson was magnificent in the 1919 World Series, based upon his stats. It doesn’t appear he was involved in fixing games.

    As much as Astros fans despise Selig MLB has flourished during his tenure and the business is flush with cash thanks to RSNs and some profit sharing. Astros fans have issues with him, but he cannot be denied his success as Commissioner.

    Like

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