It’s Time For Rob Manfred To Get Going, Going… Gone

Cole Seifer, Reporter

The Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) since January of 2015, Rob Manfred, has continued to stir up great controversy within the baseball community. Commissioners across many major sports leagues will be faced with their fair share of backlash during their tenure, but it seems every few weeks Manfred has found a new way to upset MLB fans and players. Manfred has made significant changes to baseball rules during his time as commissioner, and while some were only temporary, they still posed major negative implications to the MLB season when they were in effect. In short, Manfred’s consistent, highly unpopular alterations have damaged his reputation as commissioner and left baseball fans hoping to see his resignation in the near future. 

Manfred has drastically changed the way baseball operates, and unfortunately, many of the changes have not been for the better. One temporary change that left many upset was the expansion of the postseason in 2020. Which, many argue, did nothing but enhance the confusion of the playoffs. As a result of this expansion, 16 of the 30 MLB teams made the playoffs rather than the traditional 10-team limit. Many baseball fans also believed Manfred didn’t penalize the Houston Astros enough after they were caught stealing pitching signs from opposing teams which lead them to win the World Series in 2017.

The 2020 season was a mess to begin with due to the shortened sixty game season, having no fans in attendance as well as the complicated expansion of the postseason. The altered playoff format allowed for more than half of the teams in the MLB to make the playoffs and made winning the World Series, at least in that season, a less triumphant accomplishment. Some may argue that the excessive number of play-off qualifiers increased the level of competition; however, it eliminated the one-game wildcard playoff, arguably the second most competitive series of the entire postseason, behind the World Series. Thankfully, the playoffs were reverted back to the original 10 team bracket after the 2020 season, delighting baseball fans who preferred the traditional format. 

Unfortunately, unlike the 2020 playoff fiasco, some of the rule changes Manfred has instituted have been permanent. Some of these include the institution of a universal designated hitter, pitchers in either league who no longer bat (DH), and most egregiously, the placement of an automatic runner on second base if a game is to go extra innings (regular season only). 

The adoption of a universal DH has upset many National League fans. Fans have taken to social media making comments such as, “What a joke to the game,” “mLb basebaLL” and of course, “Fire Manfred.” Prior to the upcoming 2022 season, National League pitchers were able to bat. Usually, pitchers do not practice batting, which almost always makes them an easy out, although that is not always the case. Many San Francisco Giants fans remember Madison Bumgarner’s two home run opening game day back in 2017, Kevin Gausman’s walk-off sacrifice fly during the 2021 season or Logan Webb hitting a homerun in possibly the last plate appearance any Giants pitcher will ever make (if this rule stays for good.) This rule will also make two-way players, who can both hit and pitch, go extinct. Two-way players such as Shohei Ohtani, a pitcher and outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels, have brought a new audience to the game of baseball, and will be missed tremendously if Manfred’s new rules are carried out. 

Since Ohtani’s emergence as a top player in the league, the MLB has seen a rise in viewership around the world, specifically from Japan. Ohtani’s presence in the 2021 home run derby boosted audience numbers higher than the home run derby had ever gotten, as he was the first pitcher to ever participate in the event. Ridding pitchers the chance to bat prevents any two-way player from ever having a legitimate shot at showing off their incredible talent in the MLB. 

Manfred’s most hated change, by far, is the extra-inning rule change. Like many of the rules already mentioned, this one took effect in 2020 and infuriated baseball fans nationwide. The rule states that if a game continues past the normal nine innings of play, then the player who was the third out of the previous inning is placed on second base. Extra innings games have always been the most exciting times at the ballpark, but now they are a shadow of their former glory. Due to this current version of the rule, teams do not even need to get a base hit to score the runner on second. The rule was put in place in order to speed up the game’s average time of just over three hours. Extra innings games are uncommon already, and now it is extremely surprising to hear of a game going past the 11th inning. Without these extra innings, winning becomes based more on luck than skill. 

It is impossible to ignore the negative impact Manfred has had on the MLB and how the numerous rule changes have altered the way the game of baseball is played. Manfred has managed to not only frustrate fans, but players as well. Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman tweeted his feelings on Manfred.

Manfred has nurtured a distaste among baseball fans and players over the past three years. This type of ineffective leadership should no longer be tolerated. It is a shared sentiment across the game of baseball that commissioner, Rob Manfred, needs to get going, going gone!