Rob Manfred, the worst commissioner in all of professional sports, has once again managed to infuriate baseball fans.
Speaking to the press during the Spring Training Cactus League Media Day at the Arizona Biltmore on Wednesday, Manfred tried (and failed) to address one of Major League Baseball fans’ biggest complaints: the league’s frustrating and confusing blackout rules.
Diamond Sports Group, a subsidiary of Sinclair, and the company that owns Bally’s 19 regional sports networks is going bankrupt.
14 MLB teams earn significant revenue from their regional sports contracts with Diamond Sports Group.
These regional sports networks have been made the scapegoats for years when it comes to MLB games getting blacked out.
So, Rob Manfred was asked, if they go away, will that finally lift Major League Baseball’s terrible blackout restrictions?
Someone on @baseballreddit was seated near MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred at tonight's World Series game, and agreed to scream the top comment from the thread at him. They delivered. pic.twitter.com/owowQzVTAL
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 4, 2022
“I think in the last couple of years if you had this, say, give me one word that’s central baseball’s number one priority that word would be reach,” Rob Manfred replied. “And you know, blackouts are the kind of opposite side of the coin of reach. We need to deliver product to fans who want to watch on platforms that they customarily use at a realistic price. That is our number one priority.”
Cure the “O Rly” memes…
— Kevin Thompson (@KevG_Thompson) February 15, 2023
Last year, in addition to MLB.tv, the regional sports networks, MLB Network, MLB Extra Innings, and ESPN, Major League Baseball added Apple TV+ to its never-ending list of “platforms” on which fans can watch a game.
Never mind the fact that pretty much no one has access to all of those platforms. Or wants to have it.
The typical response to that announcement went a lot like this…
Sweet let’s make baseball even harder to watch!
— Mike Bloodworth (@mikebloodworth) March 8, 2022
My favorite is paying 130 bucks or whatever for https://t.co/2MfGHamHFb and then clicking on a game and them telling me I can’t watch it. Looking forward to more of that if I ever renew https://t.co/2MfGHamHFb (looking pretty unlikely though!)
— ms (@smms79) March 8, 2022
At least it’s Rob Manfred’s number one priority now… as it also was in 2022…
Commissioner Manfred’s #1 priority: "Reach."#MLB | #WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/NHN7tJpvsG
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) November 4, 2022
In fact, we can go back as far as 2016 and an interview Manfred gave to Jeff Passan to see how much of a priority it has been for him since becoming commish.
“How does baseball benefit from preventing people in Las Vegas and Iowa from watching up to 40 percent of games on an average weeknight with blackouts?” Passan asked Manfred.
“It doesn’t. It just plain doesn’t,” Manfred replied.
Manfred also added during the interview that “we’re really focused on the topic.”
The MLB commissioner’s latest statements about “reach” being the league’s number one priority once again felt hollow to pretty much every baseball fan.
Hey Open AI, write a terrible response to a question about MLB blackouts.
*creating response* https://t.co/7tWzsQ0s4o
— Rich Ohrnberger (@ohrnberger) February 15, 2023
“Rob Manfred is king of using as many words as possible while saying absolutely nothing,” another fan tweeted. “Words used to mean things.”
So in other words, nothing has changed for this year and blackouts will still be the biggest thing holding viewership back. Sweet.
— Brad Ziegler (@BradZiegler) February 16, 2023
“All of these rules they are implementing don’t matter to actual baseball fans,” added another fan. “If they are worried about growing the game, start with the BLACKOUTS, NOT shifts, the size of bases, and pace of play. #FIO.”
I’m convinced that Rob Manfred actually hates baseball. https://t.co/J4AIKBLm7i
— Astros Josh (@AstrosJosh) February 15, 2023
He swears that he doesn’t. He loves everything about it.