Letter from Commissioner Manfred on the future of the game

The 2022 Major League Baseball season will be remembered forever. Traveling across the country and attending games throughout the season, I’ve seen our parks bursting with excitement and players demonstrating the magic of baseball. We have witnessed incredible feats, such as those of Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, the drumming of Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, and more. Our rookie class demonstrated the caliber of talent that will carry our game into the future. And the debut of the new playoff format brought baseball’s Postseason back to cities with extraordinary fan bases, delivering thrills from start to finish.

The excitement of the new Postseason format makes me even more excited about the road ahead in the best sport in the world. This Postseason has been a clear example of how changes can improve the experience for fans.

ESPN’s distinguished journalist Tim Kurkjan described this Postseason as a “resounding success” and “one of the best in history.” This fall, our players are demonstrating the most exciting aspects of our game and the sports world in general. A record 11 teams greeted postseason action with excitement, tension and the unique factor of unpredictability that sets our game apart.

The audience of the first rounds and the public that attended 11 of our stadiums serve to demonstrate the acceptability of our fans to the new format. This month’s drama – including upsets from teams that had a tougher road – has undoubtedly spawned a new generation of fans and drawn others back to the game. Strong attendance down the stretch of the regular season makes it clear that fans welcomed the additional opportunities to compete. And home runs by Bryce Harper, Yordan Álvarez, Rhys Hoskins, Jeremy Peña and JT Realmuto are now part of the October tradition.

The skill of our players and the success of the new playoff format are of great benefit to the business. This season we will approach US$11 billion in revenue for the league, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

We are fortunate to have history and traditions that solidify the foundations of the game and have endured over time. But the game always evolves on its own, and we shouldn’t be afraid to encourage those trends that fans love so much and rein in the ones that are less favourable. For example, in recent decades, our teams have been aggressive in implementing competitive strategies on the field, as they should, in their attempts to win. However, some of those strategies have not increased the entertainment value that our fans deserve. It’s up to us to strike a balance between honoring our history and implementing thoughtful changes for the benefit of the fans.

I am a firm believer that we should further improve our game taking into account the demands of our fans. Our goal has been to evaluate ways in which we could improve the game based on the preferences of our fans.

Through market research, common themes emerged. Fans want to see more balls in play, athletics, defense and baserunning. They do not want unnecessary delays that do not allow them to enjoy the last innings and the conclusion of the games. MLB has experimented with more than 8,000 Minor League games and has established a joint process with our players to evaluate rule changes. This careful and rigorous work took time, a willingness to submit to scrutiny, and gave consideration to the views of dozens of stakeholders. I want to specifically commend the Major League players who served on our Competition Committee: Jack Flaherty, Tyler Glasnow, Whit Merrifield and Austin Slater. I also want to thank our owners, players, and defenders for their hard work.

Next year, pitching timers will facilitate the rhythm of the game that most of our fans have demanded so much. Restrictions on special formations or shift they will re-establish a more traditional positioning of players on defense, resulting in more action from balls put into play. And larger pads will keep players healthier on the field, with the added benefit of a slight incentive to be more aggressive on base.

Since our rule change announcement in September, I have been very pleased with the supportive feedback from players. Perhaps more poignantly, one of the greatest Reds of all time, Joey Votto, said, “I think we’re close to a really fun version of our sport where you’ll see more athleticism, more balls in play and we’ll see plays. more athletic from infielders and outfielders. I think we have a great sport and we are going to show it in its best version”.

It is our duty to bring the best version of the game to our fans. That’s what our players have done throughout the regular season and during a memorable month of postseason baseball. Thanks to them, we will finish the 2022 campaign with a great boost. Add to that the excitement of this Postseason with the promise of a new path in 2023, and you’ll understand why we’re overly optimistic about the future of our game.

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Letter from Commissioner Manfred on the future of the game