Major League Baseball commissioner wants conversation about rule changes
  • Saturday, January 19, 2019
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Major League Baseball commissioner wants conversation about rule changes


    Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred stands with trophy before the MLB Home Run Derby at Nationals Park on Monday. The 89th MLB baseball All-Star Game will be played today.


WASHINGTON >> The Latest on baseball’s All-Star Game (all times Eastern):

12:55 p.m.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is outlining concerns in the way the sport has changed and says owners want a broad conversation with players about rules changes.

Manfred says concerns include the time between putting balls in play, the increased number of strikeouts, an increase in home runs, the far greater use of infield shifts, the lessened length of starting pitcher outings and the increase in the use of relief pitchers.

He maintains the changes are the result of “smart people who want to win more” in front offices and says MLB and the players must decide “at what point do we want to step in, OK, and manage that organic change.”

Manfred says “this organic change may be driven by competition, but there’s lots of places in life where competition has to be bridled a little bit.”

12:30 p.m.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is defending teams’ reluctance to sign free agents last offseason and says union head Tony Clark has not responded to a pair of invitations to have a broad discussion about players’ concerns and changes in the way the game is played.

Manfred says “the only purposeful behavior that took place in the free-agent market last year is our clubs carefully analyzed the available players and made individual decisions as to what they thought those players were worth. … I’m pretty sure, based on what’s already in the books, you’re going to make the judgment that the clubs made sound decisions as to how those players should be valued. That’s how markets operate.

12:10 p.m.

Players consider teams’ reluctance to sign free agents last offseason “a direct attack” on their rights, according to union head Tony Clark. He hinted that the sport’s quarter-century of labor peace could end if concerns are not addressed.

More than 100 free agents remained unsigned when spring training began. Many signed at a fraction of the price they thought they were worth and many received shorter deals than they expected.

Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1966-95 but has had labor peace since. The current labor contract runs through the 2021 season.

Asked whether he thought there could be a work stoppage at the end of the deal if players’ concerns are not addressed, Clark says that, “to the extent there are challenges to those rights, historically I would suggest those have manifested themselves a particular way.”

12:05 p.m.

The head of the baseball players’ union favors expanding the wild-card playoff from one game to a series, but he says there are scheduling challenges.

Major League Baseball began winner-take-all, one-game playoffs in each league in 2012, when the postseason field was expanded from eight to 10.

In the AL East this year, the New York Yankees could wind up as a wild card with a record that currently projects to 106 wins.

Union head Tony Clark says “having series is always … better for a player in a lot of ways than a one-game playoff” and adds “it would be great if we can find a way in the future to have that first game be a series, but there are some challenges there.”

The schedule currently starts in the last week of March or the first week of April, and the World Series sometimes ends in November. But, the division winners might not like having an extended break before the playoffs.

11:35 a.m.

The head of the baseball players’ union says conversations will take place with the commissioner’s office over whether prohibitions against legalized gambling among his members’ relatives may be needed.

Following a U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down a federal prohibition on sports gambling, New Jersey enacted a law allowing bets on games. Team employees including players are prohibited under baseball rules from betting on the sport, but there are no rules covering their families.

Union head Tony Clark said there will a wide discussion with management about legalized gambling that will include talk of “six degrees of separation” and where lines should be drawn. Clark also is concerned about player data in relation to gambling.

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