HOUSTON (AP) – Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred exchanged a handshake with players union leader Tony Clark on the pitch ahead of the World Series opener and expressed optimism that a deal ahead of the current deal expiring on Dec. 1, but did not detail any progress in talks that appear to be heading towards a lockout.
“Have you ever heard me say that I’m anything but optimistic about getting a deal?” Manfred said. âI believe in the process. We meet regularly and I hope we can find a way to get an agreement by December 1st.
There is no evidence of progress towards a deal, and many executives and players’ agents have said they are ready for a lockdown if there is no deal when the deal expires. current agreement.
âIt’s hard to characterize progress,â said Manfred, who was the league’s chief negotiator before he became commissioner in 2015. âProgress is, you go into a room, you have conversations. People keep talking. It’s not moving in a measurable way that I’ve ever figured out, anyway, and I’ve been doing it for a long time.
“The most important point is that I know our clubs are 100% committed to the idea that they want a deal by December 1st.”
Clark said talks are ongoing and he “looks to use as many days as the schedule allows over the next five weeks or more to continue this dialogue.”
Manfred did not respond to questions about fans’ lingering anger at the Astros, who were found by Major League Baseball to have used banned electronics to steal signs en route to the 2017 World Series title.
âWe had a great divisional series, the LCS. We have two teams that have played really well. And I’m looking forward to a great World Series, âhe said.
When in a rush, he replied, âI think the victory for the Astros will be a great accomplishment for the Astros. And people are going to make up their own minds about what that means. “
As the Cleveland Indians change their name to Guardians for 2022 and the Washington NFL team ditched the Redskins in July 2020, Manfred is comfortable with Atlanta’s decision to keep the Braves nickname.
âIt’s important to understand that we have 30 markets across the country. They are not all the same, âhe said. âThe Braves have done a phenomenal job with the Native American community. The Native American community in this region fully supports the Braves program, including the chop. And for me, it’s kind of the end of the story. In this market, given the Native American community, it works.
As opinions about the Braves’ name and their use of the tomahawk chop vary within Native American communities, the National Council of American Indians has called on the franchise to drop the name and song.
ATLANTA DISPLACED ALL-STAR GAME
The World Series will be played at Truist Park in Atlanta this weekend after Manfred moved the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver amid the league’s objections to sweeping changes to Georgia’s voting laws that critics condemned as being too restrictive.
âAtlanta played really well on the home stretch, did a terrific job in the playoffs,â he said. “They earned their right to the World Series, and we can’t wait to be back in Atlanta.”
âWe have always tried to be apolitical. Obviously, there was a notable exception this year, âhe added. âI think our desire is to try to avoid another exception to this general rule. We have a diverse fan base, with different perspectives, and we would like to stay focused on the pitch in the game. “
He also admitted, âLet me say this: it’s more difficult than before. “
MLB expects to receive data on experiments with stickier baseballs used in the Arizona Fall League next month.
Manfred has said he’s going beyond the excitement of the 2021 playoffs by analyzing whether to expand the playoffs beyond his current 10 squads.
âI think the expansion of the playoffs is a bigger issue,â he said.
The extension of the designated hitter to the National League remains a subject of negotiation with the players’ association.
An experiment with a tall clock at Low-A West encouraged MLB officials about its use. The 316 nine-set matches lasted an average of 2 hours and 41 minutes, compared to 3:02 for the 91 non-clocked matches. The clock was set at 15 seconds with bases empty and 17 seconds with runners on base, with 30 seconds between batters and 2:15 between half innings and for pitching changes.
âDefinitely encouraging,â Manfred said. âPlaying times in 2h40, which is really a good number when you think about it compared to what we have been. I think maybe what is more important than that is that the people who are going to watch the matches feel the rhythm of the game, the action in the game has really been improved, it actually changes the requirement to moving along the pitch, somehow changes the game the way it’s played a bit. And that would be a useful change for us. “
The average time for a nine-inning game was a record 3:10:07 during the regular season, compared to 3:07:46 for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and 3:05:35 in 2019. Postseason games have averaged 3: 37:03 this year, up from 3:32:05 last year, and the League Championship Series average at 3:41:30.
Manfred said the teams combined to lose $ 2.7 billion to $ 3 billion in 2020, when the regular season was shortened to 60 tag team games from 162 due to the pandemic and the regular season played out. without fans.
MLB has attracted 45.3 million fans this year, with fans gradually being allowed to return, up from 68.5 million in 2019. Only Texas started the 2021 season at 100% capacity, with other US teams reaching the top. full capacity from Atlanta on May 7 to Seattle on July 2. Toronto played home games at its spring training stadium in Dunedin, Fla., Then at its Triple-A baseball stadium in Buffalo, NY, before returning home on July 30 to Rogers Center, where capacity peaked at around 29,000 at the end of September.
“Our losses will be much, much, much lower than last year,” Manfred said. âI’m not going to give a number for the moment. It’s just too early to do that. But I’ll say this: The fans’ return to the ballpark has been faster and more spectacular than we had anticipated for the start of the season.
The owners decided in September to start providing housing for some minor league players during the 2022 season after years of players asking for help with salary arrangements that regularly fall below the federal poverty line. of $ 12,880 for individuals.
âWe have significantly increased salaries this year,â said Manfred. âWe have significantly improved the facilities this year. And I think the housing requirement is just another step on the road to making sure minor league baseball is functioning in a way that is appropriate for the development of professional players.
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