> Commissioner Rob Manfred hints of groundbreaking changes in 2024 MLB

Commissioner Rob Manfred hints of groundbreaking changes in 2024

Commissioner Rob Manfred hints of groundbreaking changes in 2024

Jul 06
SW Creative
  • SportsWriters

In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr., Rob Manfred (MLB Commissioner) hinted at multiple on-field reforms he would like to see reach the big leagues in the near future, from robot umpires to an increased number of teams.

"I am thrilled to be involved in the movement to bring Major League Baseball to the great state of Tennessee."

- Justin Timberlake

Manfred wants to get to 32

Several cities are considering hosting professional baseball teams, but Manfred did not provide a timeline for when the teams will join MLB. The city of Nashville is looking to welcome an MLB team, while Oregon is trying to bring baseball to the statpope. Orlando, Charlotte, San Antonio, Austin, and San Antonio are also in the running.

Justin Timberlake joined Music City Baseball in 2020, making Nashville one of the biggest pushes. In 1998, MLB expanded to include the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (currently the Tampa Bay Rays).

Danger Will Robinson!

Manfred predicts the automated ball-strike zone system, or robot umpires, will be introduced in 2024. An automated system could call every pitch and transmit balls and strikes to a home plate umpire via an ear piece. You can also use a replay review system of balls and strikes, where each manager gets several challenges per game.

A test of the system in the minor leagues has shaved nine minutes off the average game length this season, MLB data shows.

“Our strike zone system works,” Manfred says.

Lost in Space

Manfred also mentioned MLB’s often-criticized blackouts, which prohibit streaming fans from watching games involving local teams. According to the commissioner, MLB wants to end the practice as soon as possible.

"Our No. 1 business priority right now is reach," Manfred says. The topic was a main discussion at an owners meeting in June. "Believe me," he says, "we hate blackouts as much as fans do." Manfred notes that the blackout clauses are written into broadcast deals — which he has overseen — but he says it's now a "top priority" for MLB to phase them out.

- Rob Manfred

  • Rob Manfred

    Robert D. Manfred Jr. is an American lawyer and business executive who is serving as the tenth commissioner of Major League Baseball. He previously served as MLB's chief operating officer.