Manfred pleased with first year as Commissioner

Lauds Royals for winning World Series, says fan safety, takeout plays among topics at Owners Meetings

Manfred pleased with first year as Commissioner

NEW YORK -- The World Series had ended just moments earlier. Commissioner Rob Manfred stood in the visitors' clubhouse at Citi Field early Monday morning, waiting to present the trophy to Royals owner and chairman David Glass.

As Glass walked into the room, before the television cameras were on, Manfred walked off the podium to meet him.

Game Date Matchup
Gm 1 Oct. 27 KC 5, NYM 4 (14)
Gm 2 Oct. 28 KC 7, NYM 1
Gm 3 Oct. 30 NYM 9, KC 3
Gm 4 Oct. 31 KC 5, NYM 3
Gm 5 Nov. 1 KC 7, NYM 2 (12)

"Congratulations," the Commissioner said. "I couldn't be happier for you. You should be really proud."

Manfred has reasons to be proud, too. Ratings for the postseason that culminated in Kansas City winning its first championship in 30 years were strong. The World Series yielded several memorable moments, including two games that were decided in extra innings.

Manfred has previously noted that he liked the fact that this World Series matched two teams with mid-level payrolls.

"We actually [had] one of our smallest market playing our largest market," Manfred said. "Which is a nice sign in terms of all types of markets' ability to compete in our game, which is what fans want to see. I think it's also interesting in terms of our economic system that the Royals' payroll is actually higher than the Mets' payroll and that our game, in terms of whether you win or not, is not about payroll. It's about whether you have a strategy, do you stick to that strategy and do you make good decision? I think that makes a great product for our fans."

Since officially taking over as the 10th Commissioner in baseball history in January, Manfred has experienced a long list of personal firsts. Presenting the World Series trophy for the first time is just the latest.

"It was a really exciting moment for me," Manfred said early Monday morning. "It was particularly exciting given that the Royals won. I have the greatest respect for David Glass and the Royals' organization. Just a great moment for me.

"But this one is just a little sad. Because it's the end of the year. And it's been such a great year for us, I kind of hate to see it come to an end."

Just because the postseason has ended doesn't mean Major League Baseball will be going into hibernation, of course.

"We're going to have a very busy offseason," Manfred said. "You know, we have some changes to the game that we're thinking about. We have a big Owners Meeting coming up in [two weeks in Dallas], some important issues on that agenda. So we will be busy."

Among the items that will be discussed are extending netting at ballparks to increase fan safety and takeout plays at second base in the wake of Chase Utley's slide that broke Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada's leg in the National League Division Series.

Manfred had touched on those issues during the World Series.

"Obviously, we're very concerned about fan safety," he said. "And as a result, a major topic of conversation at our November Owners Meeting will be whether we should have additional regulations relating to netting in the stands.

"But it's also important not to lose sight of the fact that there are a lot of fans out there who prefer to view the game without having netting in front of them. And that netting can be an impediment to interaction between players and fans, which is really important for us. Hopefully we'll have the wisdom to find the right balance between those two important objectives."

As for breaking up double plays, Manfred believes the issue at hand extends beyond Utley's slide.

"I want to be clear about this. This isn't about Chase Utley," he said. "This conversation about player safety at second base began in our office months before that particular play. It progressed to the point that we had some preliminary conversations with the [Major League Baseball Players Association] about it. And I fully expect that we will continue those conversations with the MLBPA in the offseason."

There was significant progress on pace of play, but Manfred intends to keep at it.

"One of the things that's at the top of my list, I want to continue to make progress on the issue of pace of game," Manfred said. "We got off to a great start this year. We knocked six minutes off the game time. But I think it's important that we try to keep the momentum up and continue to make the games as tight as we possibly can."

Paul Hagen is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.