Rob Manfred and MLB are looking for consistency in baseball

Commissioner Rob Manfred is well aware that his league baseballs are in the spotlight of players, fans and others, and while Major League Baseball is working on a variety of issues, his message on this topic has a central theme: Consistency.

Speaking to a team of sports editors at MLB headquarters in Manhattan on Monday, Manfred discussed the state of the game, the league’s new streaming deals, potential changes to the rules, and women’s advancement at all levels of baseball. But the conversation has repeatedly revolved around the state of baseball used by the Majors this season and the various questions surrounding them.

Two different concerns are debatable. Some baseball players believe the ball died for some reason, silencing points and offensive statistics in the league. Others wonder whether it is a safety issue in the face of a growing enforcement ban by the MLB on foreign substances that contribute to the catch, which has negatively affected pitchers.

On both fronts, Manfred said that perception does not correspond to reality.

Of course, it is true that insults have diminished. The average total goose in the Majors this season is.232. While that number should improve with the warming of the weather, it is much lower than the record – 237, established in 1968, better known as the Year of the Pitcher. Scores are at their lowest level since 1981, while home races are at their lowest level since 2014.

Manfred said the changes had been made to the ball used in the 2021 major league parks and that the league had been prepared in advance for the changes: he had repeatedly referred to a report commissioned by the league to study the ball. From the ball.

“The changes we made to 21 were aimed at and implemented for the effect of focusing more closely on the baseball specification range,” Manfred said.

The league, which owns a small stake in baseball maker Rawlings, reportedly conducted experiments on humidors last season and tested them in “remote” markets in terms of weather conditions. According to these results, by 2022, humidifiers have been installed in all parks.

Regarding the safety issue raised by Chris Basit of Metz and others, Manfred noted that although the number of shots was not total – although it was for Metz – league officials continued to search for the middle ground with the players catching the ball. . The goal, he said, is to find a way to make pitchers more comfortable on the hill, without going back to products like Spider Tack, which are considered by many to be performance enhancers because they allow pitchers to better catch the ball and spin it faster.

“We have two products that we test with both major and minor league players designed to solve the catch problem,” Manfred said. “These are two different approaches in terms of what is better and more functional for the players.

“We want to give the pitchers a better grip on the ball, again more consistent, without delivery. Let me use the phrase ‘performance improvement’, which has to do with crazy sticky items.”

He said baseball may have an approved catch agent for next season.

As for other league issues, Manfred said: “Our biggest priority right now is to reach our fans from a broadcast perspective.” He said the league is settling streaming deals, as recently agreed with Peacock and Apple TV +, and is looking for a regional sports network model without further erosion of road coverage that was highly profitable for the league.

He said that as MLB made progress in various minor league initiatives to improve the game play, the pitch clock was closest to being implemented at the top league level. He also said he believes that advancing women, on and off the field, is a top priority.

As for the 99-day lockout that consumed the baseball off-season, Manfred said his main advantage was that he needed to strengthen communication, which he does to travel with teams to meet in small groups. And although a lot of feelings were broken during the lockout, he said it ended in a good place.

“At the end of the day, we got a deal that would allow us to play 162 games,” he said. “And that’s the most important thing.”

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