Rob Manfred talks Pete Rose letter, FTX partnership, MLB rule changes and more


NEW YORK – Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday afternoon that he was “absolutely confident” that the Mets and Yankees were sincere in their communications about Aaron Judge.

The athletic reported Wednesday night that the Players Association reached out to MLB in response to a Nov. 3 story on SNY, the Mets television network’s website, that said the Mets and Yankees “have a mutually respectful relationship and don’t expect them to be will turn heads with a high-profile bidding war.” Under the collective bargaining agreement, clubs cannot work together to keep free agent prices low.

“I have complete confidence that the clubs behaved in a manner consistent with the agreement,” Manfred said at MLB headquarters, where he held a press conference after the league’s quarterly owners’ meetings. “This was based on a newspaper report. We will allow ourselves to credibly demonstrate to the MLBPA that this is not a problem. I’m sure that will be the outcome. But of course we understand the emotion surrounding that word (collusion) and act accordingly.”

MLB is investigating the matter, but Manfred said he is not personally involved in the league’s investigation at this time. The MLBPA has the right to make a formal complaint if it so desires.

Here’s more of Manfred’s comments to reporters, including the announcement that Globe Life Field in Arlington will host the 2024 All-Star Game.

Pete Rose’s recent letter

Manfred’s stance on Pete Rose hasn’t changed after Rose recently sent a letter to the commissioner asking forgiveness for betting on the sport.

“I believe if you bet on baseball, from a major league baseball perspective, you belong on the permanently unqualified list. When I addressed the issue the last time he applied for reinstatement, I made it clear that I didn’t think the function of that baseball list was the same as the Hall of Fame eligibility criteria. That remains my position. I think it’s a conversation that really belongs on the Hall of Fame board. I’m on that board and it’s just not appropriate for me to be in front of that conversation.

Rose wrote in his letter: “I am writing today for three reasons. First, because at my age I want to be 100% sure that you understand how sorry I am when I say I’m sorry. Second, to ask your forgiveness. And third, because I still think every day about what it would mean to qualify for the Hall of Fame.”

Changes to the rules of the game after 2023

MLB is considering possible rule changes for 2024, but Manfred was unwilling to come up with any ideas at this stage. However, it sounds possible that potential changes for 2024 may not be as drastic as those for next year. MLB will ban shift work next season, institute a pitch clock, limit the number of times pitchers can throw to check runners, and change the size of bases.

“I will say this,” said Manfred, “I am aware – aware is perhaps the best word – that we are going to do a lot next year. And sometimes you have to make sure you see how – it is a lot of big changes next years. And I think they’re very important. I think they’re going to make the game better. But we have to look closely at how they unfold. That’s an important variable in terms of the future.”

FTX partnership, patches

In June 2021, MLB announced that the first sponsor of umpire patches would be FTX, which was also established as MLB’s “Official Cryptocurrency Exchange Brand”.

After the high-profile collapse of FTX and the resulting controversy surrounding the company’s head, cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, Manfred said MLB would be more cautious going forward.

“Obviously the FTX development was a bit shocking,” said Manfred. “We have been very careful moving forward in this space. You know, we’ve tried to — we’ve been very religious about staying away from coins themselves as opposed to more corporate-based sponsorships. We think that was wise, especially given the way things unfolded. We will, I think, proceed with caution in the future.”

Manfred declined to specify how much money MLB is losing in the FTX deal.

“The FTX deal was a meaningful deal for us. I don’t want to go into more detail than that,” Manfred said.

Bankman-Fried said in MLB’s press release announcing the partnership last year, “It is an honor for FTX to be the first cryptocurrency exchange to be associated with the history and tradition of America’s national pastime. FTX.COM and FTX.US are excited to enter into this unique partnership with Major League Baseball. At FTX, we strive every day to make a positive global impact, and there is no better partner for us to achieve this goal than with MLB and its international fan base. We look forward to sharing more details about our long-term partnership in the remainder of this year.”

Manfred said it was “probably a good bet” that FTX patches wouldn’t be used next year.

Minor league appointments

MLB and the MLBPA have made early proposals for minor league collective bargaining. Manfred said he hopes a deal, which will be the first for minor leaguers, will be in place by the time the season starts.

“The natural timeline would be to try and get it done in the off-season,” said Manfred. “We always negotiate better in the low season. So I think that would be the natural expectation to try to get something done for opening day.

Centralized game viewing destination

Where to see your favorite baseball team sometimes varies from night to night, and the variety of destinations can be frustrating for fans. The goal, Manfred said, remains to create a service where fans have less to bounce between channels or streaming services.

“Ideally, we get into a situation where there’s a destination, either baseball-specific, or more than one sport, where people can go and know they can get games,” Manfred said. “That’s what I mean when I say give your fans, on a digital basis, the ability to watch games where they want to see them, when they look to watch them.”

A’s, Rays’ never-ending stadium drama

Rays owner Stu Sternberg told the MLB executive council that the Rays continue to hold talks about building a new stadium “in the Tampa Bay area,” Manfred said. Manfred did not provide an update on the A’s stadium search or the potential of a move to Las Vegas.

(Photo: Eric Hartline/USA Today)

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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