MLB Execs Differ On League's Free Agency Disparity With NBA
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark gave differing answers when asked whether the NBA's recent free agent signing period "made them wish baseball could make its own free agent season as compelling," according to Dave Sheinin of the WASHINGTON POST. Clark said, "Those midnight phone calls, the helicopter views of players driving to and from the airport -- that can happen. It can happen right now in our system, and it can happen in such a way that we rule the offseason, and the hot stove is officially hot." However, Manfred "pointed out the structural differences between the leagues -- most notably the salary cap and floor in the NBA -- and joked that such a system in MLB is something he is happy to discuss with the union." Manfred: "Would it be a good thing for us ... if we had a nonstop run of news conferences in San Diego, where all our major free agents signed? That would be good for the game." Manfred said MLB has the "freest free agency that's out there" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/10). In Pittsburgh, Jason Mackey wrote it is "hard to avoid the stark contrast in how free agency has unfolded" in the NBA and MLB. The NBA "offers a roller-coaster ride, with peak entertainment value," while MLB has "been a snoozefest." Nationals P Max Scherzer said, "You would hope that baseball recognizes that. That's a moment in our offseason that we hope to bring back to our game, something that we seem to be moving more and more away from" (POST-GAZETTE.com, 7/9).
BROKEN SYSTEM: ESPN.com's Bradford Doolittle wrote baseball "needs to fix its offseason, if only because so much down time and lack of activity leaves too much time for naysayers to put out 'baseball is dying' material." Meanwhile, NBA writers will be "able to take some time off, then spend months analyzing the new state of things in the league they cover; and the league itself will go about promoting its new hierarchy, creating interest and buzz over what's to come, rather than fending off questions about what hasn't happened" (ESPN.com, 7/5). In Toronto, Gregor Chisholm wrote the way the first week of free agency was handled in the NBA is "still a clear indicator of how much the business in baseball needs to change." MLB free agency is "broken, and it can't continue to operate under its current form for much longer." The most recent MLB offseason, with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado hitting the open market, was "supposed to be baseball's version of the next best thing." Then the offseason "opened for business and all the stores were empty" (TORONTO STAR, 7/4).
LOSING THE BATTLE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jared Diamond writes in the "battle for national relevance, actual baseball games were drowned out by a bunch of basketball players moving from one team to another." As MLB gathered in Cleveland the last few days for All-Star festivities, participants in the game "faced a disquieting question: If baseball can't dominate the headlines in the heart of the summer, with kids out of school and every other major North American professional sports league out of season, when can it?" Astros P Gerrit Cole said, "I don't think it's going to happen in the current system we have now. That's pretty obvious" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/10).