Major League Baseball players are reporting to camp this week -- pitchers and catchers report as a requirement, but many position players get there prior to their required date anyway -- and with that comes spring training. And with spring training comes a media session with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
While the commissioner was short on details, here are some of his most pertinent responses from Wednesday.
On the weird MLB.TV blackout rules many fans are forced to navigate, via Jeff Passan:
- "Blackouts are the kind of opposite side of the coin of reach. We need to deliver [the] product to fans who want to watch on platforms that they customarily use at a realistic price. That is our No. 1 priority."
Diamond Sports, which owns Bally Sports regional sports networks that have the local broadcast rights to 14 MLB teams, has recently filed bankruptcy.
- If the network fails to pay teams the money they owe, those teams can then terminate their contracts with the network. As a result, MLB Network would step in to help keep local broadcasts available to the fan bases affected, including the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, and Minnesota Twins. Manfred also said MLB would "emphasize digital flexibility" in getting the product to fans (via Chelsea Janes).
On the Athletics' ongoing stadium situation:
- Manfred says, via Susan Slusser, that the focus has been on the possibility of a move to Las Vegas, rather than solving ongoing infrastructure problems with Oakland. Manfred said he supports A's chairman John Fisher with whatever decision the ballclub makes, but he hasn't even spoken with new Oakland mayor Sheng Thao (via Matt Kawahara).
In recent years, including this offseason, the Padres have spent like a large-market club even though they are one of the smallest-market teams in Major League Baseball. Manfred was asked about that.
- "I think that the investment that the club has made in talent has allowed them to grow their revenue to the point that they will be a payer under the revenue sharing system this year. The trick for smaller markets has always been sustainability. Hats off to [Padres chairman] Peter Seidler. He's made a massive financial commitment, personally, to make this all happen. And the question becomes, how long can you continue to do that? And what happens when you have to go through a rebuild? But they have done a really, really good job of capitalizing on their talent to drive their revenue."