New era for the MLB?

Published 8:21 pm Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Out with the old, in with the new.

That’s the sentiment, it seems, two months into the 2015 MLB season.

And if that’s the working mantra for new commissioner Rob Manfred in his tenure at the helm of America’s Pastime, there might yet be time for me to take an interest in professional baseball again.

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Manfred, in his young career as commissioner, is already getting a reputation as someone who is not afraid to make changes to the sacred game of baseball or help the sport evolve with the growing and shifting interests of the modern sports fan.

And alas, that is exactly what baseball needs.

For years, there has always been talk about “the code” in baseball. An unwritten and seemingly incomprehensible set of rules that deems celebrations after a home run unacceptable, but beaning a batter as a means of retribution “part of the game.”

Professional baseball, to me, has had a growing problem over the last decade. After the scare of the Steroid Era, the game has holed itself up, reverting back to the fundamental, old-timey nature it once got its name for and has been completely unwatchable.

Games take upwards of three to four hours to play. Batters call timeout after every pitch to readjust their helmets, take a practice swing, take a pitch and then repeat.

And for years, baseball has had the attitude of, “love it or leave it.”

But that’s the problem. People are starting to decide that they no longer love it and are coincidentally leaving it.

I don’t pretend to be a sports expert or pop culture aficionado, but regular season baseball is becoming an after thought in the sporting world. Sure, it is not going to fall to the level of hockey or soccer, but it is situating itself nice and cozy behind the NFL and the NBA, in that order.

Enter, Manfred.

A few days ago, he announced that he’d consider shortening the MLB season back to 154 games, like it was in the 60s. And that same day, he also stressed the importance of speeding up the game if the league wants to continue to attract young viewers and fans.

Sorry, Bud Selig, but Manfred should have had your job a long time ago.

I give huge props to Manfred for even discussing issues, which would otherwise be considered sacrilege in the old boy’s club that is the MLB.

There is no telling if Manfred will continue his progressive approach towards the game once teams and owners start giving him backlash, or even if any of Manfred’s ideas will get the time of day. But the very fact that these topics are being brought up gives me faith that I might one day follow the MLB again.

Baseball season is plenty long. There is no reason World Series games should have to compete with blankets of snow in early November in a sport that is supposed to be played in the spring and summer.

The Fall Classic that is the World Series has become the Winter Classic.

And sorry, MLB, but the NHL already has the rights to that name.

Good for you, commissioner.

Keep it up.