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Why Tom Werner can help save baseball 02.20.17 at 1:12 pm ET
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John Henry and Tom Werner met with the Red Sox media last week. ( photo)

John Henry and Tom Werner met with the Red Sox media last week. ( photo)

Earlier this month, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred revealed how the league is trying to shorten games. The proposals, which include limiting mound visits, are unimaginative. If Manfred truly wants to quicken up the pace, he should pay a visit to Red Sox camp in Fort Myers, Fla. this spring. Team chairman Tom Werner is the perfect person for him to speak with.

It’s fair to have apprehension about Werner presumably taking on a larger role in the day-to-day operations of the Red Sox. In Terry Francona’s 2012 tell-all book, Francona: The Red Sox Years, he says he nearly walked out of a meeting in 2010 when the former television executive told him to “win in more exciting fashion.” His tenure as majority owner of the Padres ended in disaster, with fans filing a class action lawsuit against him amidst one of the most infamous fire sales in professional sports history.

While Werner’s baseball acumen is questionable, there’s little doubt about his credentials in the entertainment industry. He served as executive producer of “The Cosby Show,” “Roseanne” and “That 70s Show,” all of which were ratings successes. In a meeting with reporters last week, Werner said his primary goal is to push the average game time to under three hours. One of the ways to get there would be shortening commercial breaks.

“And one of the things that I saw that the NFL did this year, they had an experiment at the end of the year where they moved their commercial breaks,” Werner said, via the Boston Herald. “One network tried it one way, another tried it another way. I’d be for less commercial breaks, because I think that increases the ratings. So in the end, I think is a good idea.”

Cutting back on commercials would possibly force television partners to take short-term monetary hits. But if more people wind up watching the games, then those networks can charge more money for spots. Thanks to an influx of multi billion-dollar TV deals, MLB has been able to avoid addressing the long-term issues that plague the league. Radical change, such as starting extra innings with a runner on second base, are needed to make the game more attractive to young people.

Werner seems to recognize this.

“There are experiments going on. I’m for experiments,” he said last week. “There’s a lot of debate about how to deal with extra innings. … The group that is talking about it is going to be expanded to players and general managers. Hopefully we’ll make some improvements to make the game as crisp as can be.”

The monstrous ratings for last year’s Cubs-Indians World Series shouldn’t deter Manfred from trying to dramatically alter how MLB presents its product. A seven-game Fall Classic that featured the Cubs trying to end their 108-year championship drought is what’s known as an anomaly. According to Nielsen ratings, the average age of a baseball viewer is 53, and half of the audience is older than 55. The average age of an NFL viewer is 47, and the average person who tunes into the NBA is 37.

Those numbers are troubling, but baseball’s lack of popularity among young people is what should make Manfred shudder. In a 2015 ESPN poll, adults aged 18-34 were 14 percent less likely to say they were interested in baseball than the overall population. Making subtle changes –– forcing players to stay in the batter’s box and putting a time limit on mound visits –– aren’t enough to bring the masses back. MLB needs to think big.

Despite years of minor tinkering, the average MLB game rose to above three hours in 2016 for the second time in three years. This is because pace-of-play rule changes can only go so far. Due to the prevalence of analytics, the majority number of teams now favor a deliberative approach to the game: work the count on offense, create favorable match-ups on defense. As a result, strikeout rates have risen for 11 straight years, setting a new record each time. In 2016, there were more pitching changes than ever before, too.

MLB can’t dictate how teams play. But it can change the rules they play around. Maybe it’s time to mandate that relief pitchers face at least two batters, or put a cap on the number of timeouts each club is allotted. Sports Illustrated scribe Tom Verducci argues for doing something crazy, like introducing a bonus batter (under this rule, each manager would be able to select any player and have him take a random at-bat once per game).

One of the knocks on Werner as a Red Sox executive is that he thinks like a TV guy. But that’s exactly the kind of perspective MLB needs right now. Werner may not know how to build a winning baseball team, but he knows how to make good television.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, MLB, Rob Manfred, Tom Werner
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Rob Manfred says nothing about baseball needs to be fixed, then offers ideas to fix it 02.17.17 at 9:10 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Friday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

NBA: NBA All-Star celebrity game, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: NBA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge, 9 p.m. (TNT)
NHL: Pittsburgh at Columbus, 7 p.m. (NHL)
College basketball: Kent State at Akron, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Valparaiso at Oakland, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Fairfield at Quinnipiac, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: VCU at Richmond, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: California at Stanford, 10 p.m. (FS1)
Women’s college basketball: Xavier at Villanova, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)


— MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke at the Grapefruit League media day Thursday and said nothing about the current state of baseball “needs to be fixed.”

He then went on to say the game needs to be changed “so that baseball means as much to the next generation as it does to our generation” and offered some ideas for changes.

Those ideas included requiring managers to stick to a time limit when deciding whether to challenge a call, “reasonable limits” on how long umpires in the replay center can look at replay angles before deciding whether to overturn a call and raising the strike zone.

Manfred also said he is in favor of experimenting with starting extra innings with a runner on second in the minor leagues, but said “we don’t expect to ever apply at the major league level.”

“Whenever you change something, there’s a risk,” Manfred went on. “We know that, even from the little rule changes that we’ve made … There’s a period of adjustment. But you know what? We get through those periods of adjustment. Modern civilization does not come to an end. And the game is better at the end of it.”

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Read More: Greg Maddux, Kris Bryant, Rob Manfred,
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: 76ers anthem singer claims she was barred after wearing ‘We Matter’ shirt 10.27.16 at 8:19 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Thursday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

Boston at Chicago, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: LA Clippers at Portland, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College football: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Appalachian State at Georgia Southern, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Ohio at Toledo, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College football: California at USC, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: MLS playoffs, Kansas City at Seattle, 10:30 p.m. (FS1)

Celtics 122, Nets 117 
NBA: Pacers 130, Mavericks 121
NBA: Nuggets 107, Pelicans 102
NBA: Hornets 107, Bucks 96
NBA: Kings 113, Suns 94
NBA: Heat 108, Magic 96
NBA: Raptors 109, Pistons 91
NBA: Grizzlies 102, Timberwolves 98
NBA: Thunder 103, 76ers 97
NBA: Lakers 120, Rockets 114
NHL: Rangers 5, Bruins 2
NHL: Oilers 4, Capitals 1
NHL: Canadiens 3, Islanders 2
NHL: Ducks 6, Predators 1
MLB: Cubs 5, Indians 1


— Singer Sevyn Streeter was set to sing the national anthem at Wednesday night’s 76ers game, but the team allegedly nixed her performance once it saw what she was wearing.

Streeter showed up for her performance in a “We Matter” tank top and claims she was barred from stepping foot on the parquet.

Wrote Streeter on Twitter: Was suppose to sing the anthem at @sixers & @okcthunder game but minutes b4 @sixers said I couldn’t because I was wearing a “We Matter” jersey.

“I was angry, extremely, extremely angry and disappointed and honestly brought to tears by all of it. It broke my heart,” she told The Associated Press. “Honestly, I was very excited about being able to perform the national anthem. I was really looking forward to that.”

Streeter, who is African-American, also said she was never given a dress code for her performance.

The Sixers did not directly address the controversy.

“As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community,” the team said in a statement.”The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities.”

A 76ers dancer sang the anthem in Streeter’s place.

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Read More: Jose Fernandez, Philadelphia 76ers, Rob Manfred,
Commissioner rejects Pete Rose’s request for reinstatement 12.14.15 at 1:28 pm ET
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Pete Rose remains on the outs with Major League Baseball, as Commissioner Rob Manfred denied the all-time hit leader’s request for reinstatement, indicating it’s an unacceptable risk.

In a letter made public Monday, Manfred said Rose has not been completely honest about betting on games during his time as manager of the Reds in the 1980s. Rose denied betting on games for 15 years until admitting his transgression in 2005.

An ESPN report earlier this year offered evidence that suggest Rose bet on games while he was playing as well.

Manfred, in his first year as commissioner, also noted that Rose continues to bet on baseball (legally), despite his questionable past.

“Mr. Rose’s public and private comments, including his initial admission in 2004, provide me with little confidence that he has a mature understanding of his wrongful conduct, that he has accepted full responsibility for it, or that he understands the damage he has caused,” Manfred said in his decision.

Rose is ineligible for be included on Hall of Fame ballots, but that’s a separate matter from his reinstatement.

“In my view, the considerations that should drive a decision on whether an individual should be allowed to work in Baseball are not the same as those that should drive a decision on Hall of Fame eligibility,” Manfred wrote. “… Any debate over Mr. Rose’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame is one that must take place in a different forum.”

Read More: Pete Rose, Rob Manfred,
MLB owners begin meetings to elect new commissioner 08.13.14 at 8:11 pm ET
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Major League Baseball owners have officially kicked off what will be two days of meetings in an effort to find a successor for retiring MLB commissioner Bud Selig.

The three finalists for the position – MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred, MLB Executive Vice President of Business Tim Brosnan and Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner will make presentations to all 30 teams Wednesday.

Balloting is expected to commence Thursday, with a 3/4 majority – equalling out to 23 teams -needed in order to appoint a new commissioner.

Owners have estimated that 20-21 teams are in support of Manfred heading into the meetings. Werner is said to have six supporters while only the Reds have made it know that they are in favor in Brosnan as the next commissioner.

Werner has been favored by both White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Angels owner Arte Moreno, with Reinsdorf stating that he wants a commissioner who will take a harder stance on labor negotiations in anticipation for the deal to replace the collective bargaining agreement, which is set to expire in 2016.

Read More: bud selig, Rob Manfred, Tim Brosnan, Tom Warner
‘Disgusted’ Alex Rodriguez walks out on suspension hearing, ‘will not participate any further in this farce’ 11.20.13 at 12:33 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, Alex Rodriguez lashed out at Major League Baseball COO Rob Manfred and stormed out of his grievance hearing Wednesday, upset that arbitrator Fredric Horowitz ruled that commissioner Bud Selig did not have to testify before the player’s attorneys.

Rodriguez reportedly slammed his hand on a table and pointed at Manfred, telling him, ‘You know you’re full of [expletive],’ before leaving the hearing. It was the 11th day of hearings to decide Rodriguez’s appeal of his 211-game suspension for violating the league’s drug agreement and labor contract.

Rodriguez later issued a statement that read:

“I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails. I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the Players Association refused to order Selig to come in and face me.

“The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.”

Read More: alex rodriguez, Rob Manfred,
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Alex Rodriguez allegedly rekindles relationship with steroid-buying cousin 06.02.11 at 7:40 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

No games scheduled


‘™¦ Two years ago, during his public confession about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, Yankees star Alex Rodriguez explained that his cousin, Yuri Sucart, purchased steroids for him in the Dominican Republic. Now, Sucart ‘€” who was banned by the Yankees from any team-related function or facility ‘€” has resurfaced at A-Rod’s side, allegedly accompanying the player on road trips this year and last, according to the New York Daily News.

“We have been in contact with the Yankees about this matter,” Rob Manfred, baseball’s executive VP of labor relations, said Wednesday. “We are looking into it.”

‘™¦ Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson fired back at LeBron James for comments the Heat star made last week denigrating his former teammates for not being clutch players. “I think what it all boils down to if you’re great, you go play great, be great and everybody will realize you’re great. And you wouldn’t have to let it be known that everybody else was less great,” Gibson said. “Great players shouldn’t have to do that.

“So I feel like it’s kind of an admission. He might have needed some help. He might have needed to go somewhere and find someone who is a little greater so maybe he wouldn’t die down in those moments.”

‘™¦ NFL coaches ‘€” who this week filed a brief with the court in support of players ‘€” are caught in the middle during the lockout. At Forbes magazine, Andrew Brandt examines their conflicted situation.

‘™¦ Having conquered team sports, Nike is moving into action sports such as skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing. The New York Times looks at the company’s strategy.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On June 2, 1989, which Blue Jays player hit the only inside-the-park grand slam by an opposing player in Fenway Park history?

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Daniel Gibson, LeBron James, Rob Manfred