banner
Adam Gold

Letter to the new commissioner

Posted August 18

Dear Mr. Manfred

First, let me congratulate you on your appointment to the Commissioner's office. Only nine men before you have had this position, and while the NFL -- and to a certain extent, the NBA -- has moved ahead of Major League Baseball in the hearts and minds of more American sports fans, you have now been trusted with the greatest game ever invented. As someone who grew up in love with the sounds and smells of the sport, I may be somewhat biased, as not everyone shares my feelings about the National Pastime. However, it is undeniable that our game is more woven into our nation's history, it's trials and triumphs, than any of the other major sports.

It is your job to oversee it's continued growth and prosperity and, most importantly, to once again make it a game that our children will embrace. Hopefully, they'll pass it along to their children as we move into the middle of the 21st century.

I'm sure you know how big the shoes are that you are being asked to fill. Allan "Bud" Selig was arguably baseball's greatest ever commissioner. He wasn't tasked with wrestling the game back from gamblers and restoring its honor for the nation, as Kennesaw Mountain Landis was in the wake of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. But then again, Landis was instrumental in keeping intact baseball's color line, blocking several attempts to integrate the game before his death in 1944.

I know Selig was in charge when the 1994 players strike robbed us of the World Series, the first autumn without a Fall Classic in 90 years. But that's not as bad as keeping out an entire race of people, and robbing us of witnessing the likes of Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard and Satchel Paige in his prime. Bud made a mistake, he listened to the wrong people, and he was a bit of a hard-line owner back in the day as well. They thought they could strong-arm the Players Association into accepting a series of financial conditions, but in the end it left a hole in the sport, and his legacy, that can never be repaired.

Over the next two decades, under Selig's leadership -- and with your help, I should point out -- the game has enjoyed labor peace. On the field we've seen expansion, division and league realignment and the advent of the Wild Card. The latter being one of the best moves to the game's structure in almost a half century. Almost every change to the game was met with resistance, from the media and public alike, but there is no arguing that almost every alteration to the sport has been instrumental in helping to grow the game into a $9 billion industry.

That's not to mean the job is done. Selig did well to clean up the game off the field, exposing the dirty, steroid culture that had engulfed the sport since…since, well, we really don't know when it actually began. But, we know it was there. The data is in regarding performance enhancing drugs, both factual and anecdotal. And, we also know that the game was complicit at the highest level, as the players weren't the only ones to enjoy the benefits of exploding home run totals and offensive output. Baseball got rich, too, thanks to the dozens of heads conveniently turned in the opposite direction as players and their cousins were rubbing, shooting and dropping every -ine, -one and designer -oid they could find.

Thanks to the single toughest performance enhancing drug policy in major team sports, Bud helped to salvage his own legacy even as he was taking steel wool to the games.

Now, it's up to you. To continue the work of the last 20 years, but more so to take the game forward. To unify the leagues under one set of on-field rules, we either have the designated hitter or we don't. We can't continue to allow one team to be at a disadvantage in every single World Series game as we've seen since the inception of the DH in the mid-1970s. National League teams aren't constructed to have them and American League teams who rely on them are forced to hand them a glove in the most critical of games. It doesn't make sense. Fundamentally, I'm a National League guy, but today the game probably needs the extra bat that the designated hitter provides.

Also, Mr. Manfred, if you could, let's pick up the pace of play. I could argue that the sport doesn't need, and hasn't benefited from the use of instant replay at all. I could argue that the game more mirrors our own personal, day-to-day reality than any other sport and thus was never intended to be perfect. I could argue that dealing with life's inherent unfairness builds character. I could argue that the game has simply moved its arguments from safe or out, ball or strike, fair or foul, to "clear" or "inconclusive" and "he was" or "he wasn't" blocking the plate. And, we've all but eliminated a good, on-field, Earl Weaver, hat-turned-backwards, nose-to-nose, spittle-flying, dirt-kicking, expletive-hurling argument.

But I won't. Replay is here, it isn't going away. So, let's get it quicker, take the decision upstairs in each ballpark to a designated replay official and let them simply inform on-field umpires of the mistake as quickly as possible. No challenges, no conferences, no disappearing under the stands or going to headsets. Right or wrong, safe or out, fair or foul. Let's play ball.

Let's also put an end to batters stepping out of the batters box after every pitch. Batting gloves don't loosen that much simply due to the breeze as a 92 MPH fastball hits the catcher's mitt.

There are too many pitching changes. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many pitching changes. Let's limit teams to 11 pitchers on the active roster, most teams are carrying a dozen, many have 13! Eight relievers available every day invites more pitching changes. That slows the game down and gives people another reason to change the channel.

However, while all of the above is important to the on-field product, the most critical move for you just might be more ceremonial in nature. You see, while baseball worships it's past accomplishments -- to a fault if you ask me -- it uses a system of selective reverence that doesn't serve the game well.

I implore you to use the bully pulpit available to the Office of the Commissioner to force the Hall of Fame to admit aloud what we all have known for more than a decade. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and eventually Alex Rodriguez are among the greatest players of all time. They're not all on equal footing among the game's elite, but they all belong in Cooperstown. Those players, and hundreds more like them, contributed to an era of the sport that saw unprecedented popularity and excitement.

Yet the stodgy, rigid and holier than thou attitude of the Hall of Fame and it's voting body continue to ignore the game's history. Whether they realize it or not, they're doing the sport a disservice even as -- in their minds -- they are protecting the game's integrity.

There is no question that performance enhancing agents are a scar on baseball, an embarrassing chapter some would obviously like to skip. But, we don't get to ignore the parts of our history we're uncomfortable with. I think you, as commissioner, have a unique opportunity to remind those that are currently pretending to be the stewards of the sport that the official title is The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

And Museum.

It's time the voters and the Hall got off their very high horse and recognize that the walls of Cooperstown are lined with various scoundrels, cheaters and known racists. While I'm not absolving the steroid users, many of which probably would not have been under consideration for enshrinement without their aid, the game was laden with chemical cheaters over the last 25 years. However, players still need to be judged in relation to their peers as well as history.

As an example, Frank "Home Run" Baker hit 96 home runs in a 13-year career, never hitting more than 12 in a single season. Those are hardly gaudy numbers for a player with the nickname "Home Run," but from 1911-14 Baker led the American League in that category each time, with totals of 11, 10, 12 and nine. If Baker was on the ballot today there's little chance of him getting elected, but when judged against the players of his era (he was elected in the mid-1950s), it's a lot easier to make the case for a .307 lifetime hitter who led the league in runs batted in twice and also added a .363 average in almost 100 World Series plate appearances.

Mr. Commissioner, use your skills as a negotiator to convince the Hall that the greats of this era, unquestionably the most popular and profitable in the nearly 150 year history of the game, belong in the Hall. Allow the 'Museum' to note the entire story, on individual plaques if needed. Let the museum-goers know that Bonds was indicted by a federal grand jury on perjury charges in the BALCO designer steroid scandal, the same for Clemens, who was accused of lying to a congressional committee about his own past steroid use. And, while they're at it, let's put Pete Rose in the Hall. Simply add the fact that he agreed to a lifetime banishment from Major League Baseball for his involvement with gambling on games, including those involving the Cincinnati Reds, the team for which he was the manager.

It's time Major League Baseball stood up for its fans. The fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, uncles and grandparents who passed their love of the game on to future generations. They care about the game's integrity, but they care more about the memories great players contributed to their lives. Personally, I'll always be disappointed in McGwire and Sosa for cheating their way past Roger Maris in 1998, but I'll never forget watching it happen. No amount of steroids can erase the feeling I had when McGwire belted that line drive down the line off Chicago's Steve Trachsel on Sept. 8, 1998. That was the home run that moved him past Maris and it will be etched in my mind forever.

To pretend those moments didn't exist is equally dishonest and probably worse than anything McGwire, or Sosa, or Bonds may have done. At least they had the added pressure of knowing their peers were cheating as well.

Baseball is in great shape thanks in part to your efforts negotiating the last two labor agreements. But, we still need to see the sport move forward. You've already proven your acumen in the boardroom, now it will be your leadership and your ability to rally support for your agenda that will determine your success as the tenth commissioner of Major League Baseball.

I wish you lots of luck.

12 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • tobin63 Aug 23, 9:40 a.m.

    Hey Gold, Learn the difference between "its" and "it's." You made this mistake three times, looks amateurish. It's not that hard.

  • Objective Scientist Aug 20, 8:10 p.m.

    I agree with the need to speed up the game... i.e., there is no way a batter needs to... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    Regarding your question.....NO! Too many players trying to do it right to allow guys like A-Rod in.

    — Posted by Doc Holliday

    Amen - AMEN - AAAAAMMEEEENNN!!!

  • Doc Holliday Aug 20, 7:13 p.m.

    One more thing about the pitch clock because we always hear fans saying that the games take too... View More

    — Posted by Doc Holliday

    Great points, B! I thought I heard that baseball does have a time limit on pitches, but it... View More

    — Posted by GunnyGoesBaaaarf

    From what I've seen, you don't even have to hit the bag on a D-play. Just be in the vicinity...lol

  • Doc Holliday Aug 20, 7:11 p.m.

    I agree with the need to speed up the game... i.e., there is no way a batter needs to... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    Regarding your question.....NO! Too many players trying to do it right to allow guys like A-Rod in.

  • Objective Scientist Aug 20, 6:42 p.m.

    I agree with the need to speed up the game... i.e., there is no way a batter needs to "undo/redo" the velcro straps on his batting gloves after every pitch! Deal with the obvious such as that! Replay... agree with the notion of a "replay official" making a quick and decisive call after reviewing the replay... no more discussion - DONE! What I cannot agree with however is the idea of allowing all those "listed" A-Rod, Rose, etc., etc. into the HOF. NO one who blatantly breaks the rules of the game in a manner that gives him an advantage over those who do not, and/or "sullies" the basic principles and the "honor" of a game should be allowed to gain that recognition! Admit A-Rod to the HOF? What message does that send to current and future players? He blatantly, knowingly violated rules? He DENIED that he did. He LIED about it. He OBSTRUCTED the investigation. He "lawyered up" and fought it all the way. Any you want to let a guy like that into the HOF?

  • GunnyGoesBaaaarf Aug 20, 7:48 a.m.

    One more thing about the pitch clock because we always hear fans saying that the games take too... View More

    — Posted by Doc Holliday

    Great points, B! I thought I heard that baseball does have a time limit on pitches, but it isn't enforced. Totally agree on the DH - makes no sense for the NL and AL not to have the same standards.

  • Doc Holliday Aug 18, 10:18 p.m.

    One more thing about the pitch clock because we always hear fans saying that the games take too long.

    I was fortunate to play in 2 NBC World Series tourneys in Kansas years ago. That was the first time I had ever seen a pitch clock being used.

    You had so many seconds to get ready whether you were hitting or pitching. If the hitter caused a delay as the clock went to zero, it was an automatic strike. If the pitcher caused the delay, the ump called an automatic ball. They were able to keep things moving by doing this.

    MLB needs to consider something like this. The players may not agree with it but it definitely speeds things up.

  • Doc Holliday Aug 18, 10:07 p.m.

    Nice article, Adam.

    MLB needs a pitch clock....NOW! If a player isn't ready to hit by the time he steps into the box, it ain't gonna happen.
    Besides, that's what the on-deck circle is for.

    HOF - if you're gonna let Bonds, Clemens, & players like that in, Joe Jackson needs to go in as well. Judging from his WS performance, there is no way he threw the Series...not with those numbers.

    DH - get rid of it. Make pitchers hit, create more strategy, and create a level playing field for all. Plus, there are certain pitchers who probably wouldn't throw at hitters if they are forced to grab a bat occasionally. Easy to throw a heater at another guy when you don't have to face the music yourself.

    With that said, I've always wondered why MLB teams don't play by the same rules across the board. (DH or no DH)

  • White Is Not A Crime Aug 18, 4:55 p.m.

    Dear Mr. Manfred

    The gap between baseball now, and baseball "back in the day", is almost as big as the gap between your teeth.

    Good luck!

  • melledge Aug 18, 2:42 p.m.

    Adam, as far as the state of today's game goes, I'm right there with you. As a long-time die-hard fan, I find it difficult to watch 9 innings these days...let's speed it up. Not able to agree with you on the Cooperstown issue, but thanks for stating your case...well done.

More...

 

 

  • CBB: North Carolina vs. Ohio State

    Saturday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: UCLA vs Kentucky

    Saturday at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego at San Francisco

    Saturday at 8:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Panthers vs. Cleveland

    Monday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NHL: Hurricanes vs. Toronto

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • CBB: Duke vs. UConn

    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on 620am

  • WBB: Duke vs. UMass Lowell

    Friday at 6:30 pm on 620am

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
 
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
 
Final
CLE 98
ATL 127
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
 
4th
DET 80
DAL 94
 
4th
BOS 95
ORL 86
 
4th
MIA 59
UTA 77
 
3rd
TOR 58
BRK 60
 
2nd
SAN 35
MEM 48
 
10:00pm Tonight
POR
MIL
10:30pm Tonight
DEN
HOU
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
IND
Final
UNT 78
LANG 65
 
Final
Terriers 64
DELST 72
 
Final
MSST 55
ARKST 69
 
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
GMAS 99
CATAWBA 69
 
Final
WOFF 64
CSOU 58
 
Final
HIGH 106
FERR 48
 
Final
JVU 68
GWEBB 65
 
Final
ILL 73
HAMP 55
 
Final
BST 52
JMU 72
 
Final
YOUNG 84
KNST 90
 
Final
UMO 71
LONG 60
 
Final
PITT 65
MAN 56
Final
OSU 97
NCAT 55
Final
FSU 93
UNF 77
 
Final
TOL 83
RMU 57
 
Final
CAMP 70
SIUE 65
 
Final
DUQ 52
RFLSH 67
 
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
 
2nd
UCF 73
DET 68
 
2nd
UNCW 57
LIB 53
 
2nd
LOYC 55
ABCHRIST 37
 
2nd
MURST 65
ALCOR 39
 
Half
HOU 16
ARKPB 27
 
2nd
NW 50
CMICH 59
 
2nd
WKENT 54
CHIST 43
 
2nd
ODU 42
UGST 44
 
2nd
SMU 41
ILLCH 32
 
2nd
LALAF 97
MLGN 62
 
2nd
TULSA 58
MIZST 55
 
2nd
UWGB 45
MORE 31
 
2nd
NEOM 67
NCOL 49
 
2nd
TTU 71
SCST 28
 
2nd
DEN 51
TAMCC 39
 
Half
STEPH 27
TXST 30
 
2nd
STLU 49
TXPA 41
 
Half
MEM 42
USCU 29
 
2nd
ILLST 41
TENNM 42
 
1st
MSU 17
EMICH 10
 
1st
GRCN 27
INCWORD 23
 
1st
STAN 15
LMU 24
 
1st
BAY 16
NMST 16
 
1st
CIN 10
SDST 16
 
1st
AUB 21
WINT 9
 
10:00pm Tonight
NMU
CARK
 
10:00pm Tonight
PEPP
HOW
 
10:00pm Tonight
CPSL
NE
 
10:30pm Tonight
UNLV
PORT
11:00pm Tonight
OREG
CSNO
11:00pm Tonight
WASH
GRAM
3rd
NJD 0
OTT 1
 
2nd
MIN 1
BOS 2
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
DAL