USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

“Baseball needs to adapt, or it risks fading into irrelevance.” These words, or ones very much like them, likely echoed through Rob Manfred’s mind upon becoming the MLB Commissioner. Is he an architect of change or a reckless disruptor?

That’s the question: haunting locker rooms and living rooms across America as Manfred’s tenure approaches its end. His imprint on the game is indelible, though whether it’s a blueprint for the future or a stain on tradition remains hotly debated.

Rob Manfred’s Early Years Exploded With Innovation


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Manfred’s most controversial change arrived with a ticking sound. The pitch clock became a symbol of his reformist agenda, imposing a time limit on pitchers between deliveries. It sought to address complaints about baseball’s languid pace in modern times. 

“We must adapt to shorter attention spans,” he likely argued in strategy sessions. While games undeniably became faster, a fundamental tension arose. Traditionalists decry the disruption of baseball’s timeless ebb and flow, claiming it strips away opportunities for in-game strategy and suspenseful build-up.

Yet, younger fans, raised on rapid-fire content, cite the clock’s role in creating a more consistently engaging match. Whether positive or negative, the pitch clock is a game-changer that forces us all to examine what we value most in baseball’s pacing. But being an MLB Commissioner isn’t merely about the spectacle on the field.

Read More: Amidst Heavy Pitch Clock Criticism, Another Set of New Rules Fails to Impress the MLB Community

The Astros Scandal: A Tarnished Legacy

An unprecedented wave of rule-breaking crashed over baseball during Rob Manfred’s time in office. The Houston Astros devised a brazen scheme, stealing signs with illicit technology—an insidious breach of the sport’s integrity. Manfred launched an investigation, and the punishments were harsh: suspensions, fines, and lost draft picks. But many cry, “Not enough!”

Some say he had a duty to set an example by voiding their World Series title. To his defenders, a challenge arises: “How could he prevent every scheme with technology growing rampant?” Regardless of where you stand, the Astros scandal casts a long shadow.

For some, it’s a grim reminder of the vulnerability of fair play; for others, it’s a stain on Manfred’s ability to safeguard the sport’s sanctity. After all, at the heart of the matter, the Commissioner is beholden to the MLB’s team owners.

Business vs. the Spirit of the Game

A Commissioner walks a tightrope, balancing the desires of passionate fans with the cold calculus of a multi-billion-dollar business. Rob Manfred answers, ultimately, to the 30 clubhouse owners, those driven primarily by maximizing revenue and market share. This dynamic leads to controversial decisions.

Perhaps some owners pressured for an expanded playoff format, envisioning higher ticket sales and broadcast rights. While exciting for some, it risks diluting the importance of regular-season dominance in the eyes of long-time fans. 

Or consider those rumored rule changes designed to shorten games: “Faster games equal a wider audience,” an owner might advise. Yet, these alterations can make baseball feel rushed and frantic, detracting from the strategic nuance beloved by the game’s traditionalists. However, as a commissioner, Manfred’s influence stretches beyond even the rule books. 

Manfred’s Influences: Deadline and a Technology-Driven Future

His desire to shake up baseball reaches beyond pacing issues. Manfred’s proposed ‘deadline’ for free agents speaks to a hunger for urgency and spectacle. Some herald it as a much-needed shift, preventing protracted offseasons that leave fans in limbo and smaller market teams disadvantaged.

Yet, opponents worry that imposing a hard deadline could harm well-thought-out team-building strategies and lead to rash signings motivated by fear over sound judgment. This exemplifies a pattern within Manfred’s leadership: He seeks efficiency and immediate excitement, traits sometimes at odds with the slow-burn deliberation inherent to baseball strategy. His vision extends into the technological realm.

Experimentation with automated strike zones hints at a potential future where computerized precision outweighs the charming ‘human element’ of an umpire’s calls. A game free from blown calls! What’s not to love? A new breed of fans might argue.

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Still, purists counter that removing the umpire’s role, flaws and all, severs another bond to baseball’s long, often imperfect, history. And now, as Manfred gets ready to depart from the Commissioner’s seat in 2029, his impact ripples outward.

Stepping Down: A Legacy in Flux


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Rob Manfred has undeniably brought about sweeping change, both welcomed and lamented. He’s spurred technological advancements, seeking to attract younger viewers accustomed to a fast-paced world. Perhaps some of his bold initiatives will pay off in the long run, bringing in new, dedicated audiences. 

Then again, his relentless pursuit of change might fracture the sport’s loyal fanbase, those who cling to the measured pace and traditions upon which baseball built its mystique.


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Read More: After Anti-Pitcher Move Earlier This Year, ‘Man Who Hates Baseball’ Finally Moves in Their Favor

Has Manfred saved baseball from becoming obsolete, or did he chip away at the foundation that made it timeless? Ultimately, this question hinges on what, as fans, we value most about the sport. Did he enhance those values or betray them? It can be said for certain that the man we call Commissioner will leave an indelible mark. Whether it will spell rebirth or ruin… only time holds the answer.