Monday at Dodger Stadium represented some of the best baseball has to offer.
The legacy of the game was honored with the presence and performance of St. Louis Cardinals great Albert Pujols during the Home Run Derby. And one of the current faces of the game, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Sotohe won the event by beating Seattle Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez in the final.
“To say we’re excited about where our youngsters are, where our game is, our veteran players, what they’re accomplishing on the field, is an understatement,” said Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark, during a question and answer session. session with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles.
“I’m sure you can appreciate Albert Pujols, one of the best players to ever play our game, being a part of the festivities here in Los Angeles, as well as some of the most talented young players we’ve had in a long time in the game. field at the same time.
“To say I’m excited about the game, what our players are doing, is an understatement.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred said he was “really pleased with how the first half went.”
“We’ve had those milestones that are so important to our game,” said Manfred, who shadowed Clark at the BBWAA meeting. “Miguel Cabrera in particular is in the thick of it (with his 3,000th career hit). Our best stars like (Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei) Ohtani continue to shine for the game.
“And it’s another year for the young player. That’s great for the game.”
Those achievements came after a lockout delayed the season. As part of the agreement that ended the lockout, a competition committee was created, reportedly consisting of six directors, four union representatives and an arbitrator.
What could look different in 2023?
A shot clock, extended bases and limits on defensive changes are the focal points to consider, Clark said.
“Every time you change something, it’s going to look a little different,” Chicago White Sox closer Liam Hendriks told the Tribune before Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium. “I dealt with shot clocks in the minor leagues. I think it’s something you can implement but not necessarily enforce.
“Hopefully it’s a decent indicator of how things will go. You can put it there but not necessarily enforce it. …Put it on and remind the guys that they’re trying to do it. And it can be that reorganization that ‘it’s taking longer than I think’.
“As for the bigger bases, it will be interesting to see who benefits the most. Whether it’s bang-bang plays that they’re out or stolen bases that they’re safe. Who knows?”
One topic that is not currently being discussed is an automated ball hitting system.
“We assume that at some point it would become part of the conversation; it would not be for 2023,” Clark said. “Maybe it would be for 2024. But the players have been involved for some time and are very opinionated about the system. About what it can do, what it can’t do.
“Guys are offering tangible evidence on what he’s doing and what he can do to advance the game and they’re taking positions accordingly.”
Some of the potential changes have been implemented and tested on minors.
A separate issue of minor league pay came up during Tuesday’s session with Manfred, who said, “I reject the premise that they are not paid a living wage.”
That prompted a response from Advocates for Minor Leaguers executive director Harry Marino, who said in a statement: “Most minor league baseball players work second jobs because their annual salaries are insufficient to make ends meet. The commissioner earns an annual salary of $17.5 million. His suggestion that minor league pay is acceptable is insensitive and untrue.”
Manfred acknowledged that attendance is at “95% of where we were before the pandemic.”
“We have work to do,” he said. “Being 95% of where we were in 2019 is not our goal. Our goal is to be higher than we were in 2019. We need to work hard on things like pricing and promotion to make sure we get as many people in the stadium as possible.”
There may be new stadiums and teams on the horizon in the form of expansion.
“We’re big fans of the growth of the game,” Clark said. “Expansion, we would be fans. It seems like we’ve been having the expansion conversation for a long time. It’s important to make sure the Oakland team and the Tampa team are located. We’re hopeful that over the course of this five-year window those things will be worked out and we can find ourselves in a 32-team world.
“I’m the leader of a union, so I like it when jobs are added. But what would be great, too, is that those teams that are added, that there’s a commitment to putting out the best possible team so that we don’t just add teams. Where all the fans can come to the stadium every day of every year and believe that their club is giving its best.”
As for a timeline for expansion, Manfred said, “I need to figure out Oakland and Tampa before we can have a realistic conversation about expansion. In my opinion, those situations are serious enough and timely enough, they have to be our number one focus.”
Tuesday night’s focus was on many of the game’s best players gathered at Dodger Stadium. The game began with Ohtani at the plate and three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the hometown Dodgers on the mound.
The trade was even a possibility in the All-Star Game, with MLB announcing a there would be a home run derby if the game is tied after nine innings.
But don’t expect to see that in the regular season any time soon.
“I don’t see the derby format as something we can use beyond the All-Star Game,” Manfred said. “I think it’s something that could be exciting for the fans for a one-off event. I don’t see it as a regular season assignment.”
As for situations like the current extra-innings format with a runner starting every half-inning at second base, Manfred said, “Visiting and reviewing the rules should be an ongoing process in the competition committee. That’s why we’re so interested in the change we made to the basic agreement.”