MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred will be paying a visit to St. Petersburg today, meeting with Rays owner Stu Sternberg and taking in a game. Manfred and Sternberg will make a joint press appearance, at which new stadium plans will no doubt be referenced. Chances are, however, they will not have much concrete information to impart.
Manfred will likely be discussing a sort of “state of the game” agenda as he continues to seek on and off-field tweaks aimed at increasing baseball’s popularity.
Some recent rule changes, such as the between-innings clock and the (seldom enforced) requirement that batters remain in the box between pitches, are designed to hasten the pace of play with the goal of reducing dead time and increasing the game’s appeal to the supposedly action-oriented younger generations.
We have also seen some refreshing marketing efforts this year all with the goal of giving baseball a different look.
The recent MLB Little League Classic provided some delightful viewing, and the upcoming “players weekend”, in which players can choose to have a favorite nickname on their jersey, has generated a lot of good fun, not to mention countless new merchandising opportunities (and if anyone has a lead on a “Who?” shirsey could you let me know?).
Rays players and coaches have their own ideas about how to improve baseball. Marc Topkin asked them what they would like to suggest to Rob Manfred, and they had some interesting suggestions:
- Perhaps not surprisingly, pitcher Jake Odorizzi wanted to abandon the DH so that pitchers could hit. At the same time, several Rays position players suggested extending the DH to the National League, largely to expand the positions available at the MLB level.
- Corey Dickerson doesn’t want pitchers to be able to start from the stretch, because it throws off his timing. What’s next, Corey, outlawing the slider?
- Rocco Baldelli, definitely the most woke first base coach in baseball, wants to see steps to encourage diversity among coaching staffs and in front offices.
- Sergio Romo wants a cheering section (not clear if he means cheerleaders) as we see in football games, or cheering sections common to soccer games (I guess the “Ray Team” doesn’t do it for him).
- Finally, Alex Cobb wants dramatic lighting effects such as those seen in indoor arenas and concerts... Does he mean something just like this? He’s a fan of the Lightning in- game experience so perhaps we can envision something like this. There have to be some upsides to playing baseball in a dome!
What say you?