Manfred: MLB Not Expecting To Add More Netting This Season
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he "does not expect teams to make changes to the protective netting around ballparks during the season," but he does expect conversations to "continue about whether netting should be extended," according to Tim Booth of the AP. Manfred said that "structural issues" in each ballpark would make it "difficult to mandate changes during the season." However, he added that the recent incident at Minute Maid Park will "lead to conversations into the offseason." Manfred: "It is important that we continue to focus on fan safety. If that means that the netting has to go beyond the dugouts, so be it. Each ballpark is different. ... But there is a balance here. We do have fans that are vocal about the fact that they don't want to sit behind nets." Meanwhile, Manfred also addressed the MLB effort in Portland, saying that he has been "kept abreast of the attempts" to build a ballpark there. But he reiterated that expansion will not be discussed until ballpark situations "are resolved" for the Rays and A's. Manfred added that he "expects any rule changes to be addressed" in the next CBA negotiations that will ramp up next year. The current CBA expires after the '21 season (AP, 6/4).
GLOBAL GAME: In DC, Jesse Dougherty noted Spanish-speaking players made up more than 25% of Opening Day rosters this season. However, as MLB "does not oversee how teams assimilate their international players," teams are now "responding to the increasing diversity." Many have "ramped up English education programs, spread resources to their abroad academies and affiliates, and hired full-time teachers to teach language classes and aid in the overall transition." The "consensus around the game is that steps in that direction are long overdue." MLB agent Gene Mato said, "I have seen firsthand the advantages of speaking and understanding a teammate's first language. It automatically brings down walls that can hinder camaraderie between players in the clubhouse" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/4).
CHALLENGES AHEAD: In Seattle, Larry Stone writes there are some "on-field changes that could prod" MLB "out of its malaise." Stone: "I believe [Manfred] fully recognizes the predicament, both from an artistic and business standpoint. And he's been bold, even downright revolutionary, in some of his potential solutions." Manfred is "fighting two disparate forces -- a strong union that wants a say in any rule changes, and will resist many of them, and a lack of unanimity among fans about what exactly is the best way to proceed" (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/5).