Love Letters From Pronk is an ongoing series where Pronk shares his love for somebody connected to the Cubs. Sometimes funny, sometimes weird, sometimes touching, Pronk likes to make 100% sure people know that they are loved, and best expresses that through gushing letters. Today, we do something different with a piece of hate mail for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
Rob Manfred has been terrible for the sport of baseball. There is no way around that. When Rob Manfred was elected to be Bud Selig's successor in 2015, he outlined The following steps to grow the game of baseball:
Quicken Pace of Play
Strengthen Player Relationships
Unified Business Operation
Keep those goals in mind as you read the first ever "Hate mail from Pronk."
Dear Rob Manfred,
Please do Major League Baseball a favor and resign. You have very literally been a hindrance to the game of baseball, not a benefit. If you want to help grow the game, resign. Or maybe start doing the opposite of what you have been doing. Let's go over your five step plan to improving the game of baseball and grade how you are doing, shall we?
Even though baseball is the most family oriented group of fans, the average fan age is the highest of all major sports in America. How is that possible? Only a third of baseball fans are under the age of 35. The average age of the baseball fan has gone up since you've taken over. Bad Rob Manfred.
Well, baseball has embraced technology all right:
Regardless of what power the MLB players union has, you completely fumbled the response. Players needed to be suspended. We were going to have beanball wars. Lucky for you, by the time we get baseball back after the pandemic, a lot of this heat will have blown over.
In terms of stuff that you have a bit more control over, let's take a look at the MLB.TV blackout map.
It is terrible that cord cutters can't purchase MLB.TV to watch their favorite local teams. It's even more asinine that some areas have multiple teams blacked out. Keeping baseball games off people's televisions prevents the game from growing. When I was a kid, I could watch all games on broadcast TV. Technology has improved since then, yet I can't watch games via streaming even though I live in the Chicago area. That's dumb. I shouldn't have to explain this to the Commissioner. Bad Rob Manfred.
Quicken Pace of Play:
The average game time had been consistently been around 2:50 since the late 1980s. I didn't consider it to be a major problem, but maybe something that needed fine tuning. You demanded massive overhaul, with unnatural rules and pitch clocks. Let's see the fruit of your efforts.
Congrats Rob. In your reign, you've managed to accomplish the exact opposite of your intentions. Bad Rob Manfred.
Strengthen Player Relationships:
A lot of baseball players are more active on social media now. That's great for fan interaction, and we also get to see how MLB players get along. Let's take a gander.
I might only be sticking my toe into the pool to check the temperature, but this swimming pool is ice cold. Bad Rob Manfred.
Unified Business Operation:
I take this one as unifying ownership and maximizing profit. What's been going on with MLB owners lately?
Look, I run a business. It is obviously much smaller than MLB, but I get it. There's a pandemic. Times are tough. Even before all of these shutdowns, I'm sure baseball isn't as profitable as most would think for it to be. You've got to pay player salaries, stadium maintenance, front office salaries, minor league salaries, stadium operations, and so on. That pie gets cut up, and the slices are always smaller than you'd anticipate. But let's look at baseball's annual revenue.
If you can't figure out how to increase profits despite tripling revenue in 20 years while adding $2 billion in 4 years, you just aren't good at business. Period. And despite all of this increased revenue, owners have no rainy day fund? Teams have to release scouts after the draft, shave MLB player salaries, and the minor leagues have to be slashed by at least 25%? Are you kidding me? Bad Rob Manfred.
To review your five points of improvement:
Youth Outreach: FAIL
Embrace Technology: FAIL
Quicken Pace of Play: FAIL
Strengthen Player Relationships: FAIL
Unified Business Operation: FAIL
Now again, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Times are tough. It's hard to have sporting events when governors are locking down states, and the world of heath care thinks its unsafe for more than 10 people to gather in proximity. If you can bring back the game to help heal the world with a distraction, I can forgive your 5 massive screw ups. Korea's figuring it out. Surely the greatest league in the game of baseball can figure it out too.
Oh wait. Owners and players are haggling over pay from a reduced season. Players accepted pro-rated salaries, but that just wasn't good enough for ownership. Time is wasting every day. The NFL has plans to continue. Basketball and Hockey figured out their interruptions and will have playoffs. What's MLB's excuse? How do we not have an anticipated start date?
That is your biggest failure of all.
Rob Manfred, if you care about baseball, resign before you hurt it even more. Calling you a screw up is putting it nicely. If anything, I'd expect you to be a double agent from the NFL, looking to mess up baseball so that football can steal fans. That makes more logical sense than you actually caring about the state of baseball.
PS: Major League Baseball has a drastically declining African-American presence, but that doesn't seem to even register on your radar.