MLB Commissioner also addresses ballpark security in news conference
By Richard Justice
HOUSTON -- Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.
"We think it's time to move past exhibition games and play real live 'they-count' games in Mexico," Manfred said. "That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team."
MLB's players and owners agreed on international regular-season play in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Presumably, those games could be scheduled as early as 2018.
"We're hopeful that what we see in Mexico will continue to encourage us that that's a possibility [for expansion]," Manfred said. "We also had a good experience with the [World Baseball Classic] in Mexico. The venue was a good one. It sold well. We had good crowds -- another positive in terms of more Major League-level baseball in Mexico."
Manfred touched on an assortment of other topics during a news conference before Tuesday's Tigers-Astros game.
In the wake of the Manchester bombing, Manfred said security remained a priority for baseball.
"Security is our utmost priority," he said. "Always has been and will continue to be going forward. Unfortunately, we are all too frequently reminded of the importance of security because of events like [the one which] occurred in Manchester yesterday.
"We have undertaken a thorough review of our security measures. Over the last 18 months, there have been a lot of changes in the ballparks in terms of magnetometers, ballpark access, number of security people, and we do believe we're providing a safe environment for our fans.
"We have ongoing deep relationships with Homeland Security, local law-enforcement officials in all of our 30 Major League cities, as well as the FBI. Those resources are crucial. Those relationships are crucial to make sure we provide ballparks that are safe for our fans. We will continue to be vigilant on this topic."
Manfred said he was pleased Astros broadcasters have made extensive use of Statcast™ and other data during recent games.
"There's an extraordinary amount of new information about the game," he said. "We do think it's important for our broadcast partners, both locally and nationally, to take advantage of those new information sources as an opportunity to deepen fan engagement with the game.
"That's why we at baseball invested so much money in Statcast™ as a production enhancement to be available to our broadcasters. We do think it's a way to make fans even more interested in what we regard to be the greatest game in the world."
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.