After a busy off-season and spring training that included games in Australia, Panama, Mexico and Cuba, I am very excited that today at 1:05 p.m. (ET) Major League Baseball's 2016 regular season begins at beautiful PNC Park in Pittsburgh. During the first two days of the 2016 season, there will be seven national broadcast games on ESPN featuring all 10 Clubs that participated in the 2015 Postseason. On Sunday Night Baseball, the Kansas City Royals will begin the defense of their 2015 World Series Championship against the National League Champion New York Mets.
As we begin our 2016 regular season, millions of fans around the world can realistically hope that their team will be playing October baseball and contending for a World Championship. Our game is characterized by great competitive balance. The last five seasons have produced more playoff teams -- 24 -- than any such period in baseball history and we have now gone a record 15 straight years without a repeat World Series Champion.
Fans can also be excited about the great group of young stars in our game today. These extraordinary young players also stand out as ambassadors for the sport. The national broadcasts on Sunday and Monday offer fans an outstanding opportunity to see our talented, young and diverse players who come from around the world to play Major League Baseball.
Last year we worked with the players to create a noticeably faster and crisper pace to our games while maintaining the elements of baseball that make our sport so special. Baseball has shown that creativity need not come at the expense of the history and traditions that fans value. We will continue to embrace technology, which is symbolized in part by allowing our coaches and players to use iPads in our dugouts and bullpens for the first time. With the assortment of digital products MLB Advanced Media makes available, technology improves access to the game and its players that fans of all ages desire.
Opening Day is a celebrated tradition. I hope that our fans can take a moment to enjoy the excitement with their family and friends. This Monday, I invite one and all to put their #CapsOn as we stand together and celebrate Opening Day. The 2016 season promises to be a spectacular one for Major League Baseball, and on behalf of all of us who have the honor of serving the game, I thank you for your loyalty to our National Pastime.
Robert D. Manfred, Jr.
Commissioner of Baseball