Rob Manfred’s 2029 Replacement Needs to Be About Baseball

With news of Rob Manfred stepping down and retiring in 2029, MLB owners have to consider who will be his replacement as the next commissioner.

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 26: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred looks on prior to Game One of the World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Now that we know when Rob Manfred is stepping down as Major League Baseball’s Commissioner, hopefully MLB can start looking for a replacement who cares not only about business but also the very core of the game of baseball as well.

With Manfred’s announcement that we will not return as Commissioner after his contract expires in 2029, MLB owners have the task of finding who will take the reins from Manfred, who took over his current role in early 2015.

The game of baseball has changed dramatically since Manfred took over, with streaming now all the buzz over cable outlets and plenty of changes to the MLB rulebook, including the pitch clock and runners on second base in extra innings, having been laid down during his tenure.

Whether you agree with the changes that have come to baseball during Manfred’s time in the office or not, one thing is for sure … and that is there have been several instances where Manfred has shown he simply doesn’t get the mentality of the average baseball fan.

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For that argument, the case in point came on Thursday when Manfred made an appearance in Florida to kick off spring training and suggested that fans of the Oakland A’s (who are losing their team to Las Vegas) should simply switch over to rooting for the other team still in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Giants.

The only thing likely worse for an Oakland A’s fan outside of losing his or her own team is to have someone simply shrug their shoulders and suggest they root for an arch-rival across the Bay.

After all, why wouldn’t Mets fans cheer for the Yankees if their team ever left Queens? Same for the Cubs fans if Wrigley Field was paved for a parking lot. Hey, there’s a team on the South Side that you cheer for still. What’s the big deal?

Baseball has long tried to capitalize on its geographic rivalries, so simply shrugging off the monster that MLB has been trying to build between nearby fanbases is tone deaf at best.

At worst, it’s simply ignorant of what has been a part of baseball’s fabric for decades. As a fan, you have teams you root for and teams you root against.

Ask the Cubs and Cardinals or Giants and Dodgers. Those matchups simply matter a little more, even if they only count as one game in the standings. That’s why the Bay Bridge Series between the A’s and Giants has been a thing since interleague play became a regular part of the schedule (and certainly was ramped up to a whole other level during the 1989 World Series).

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But hey, at least there could be one thing the A’s and Giants fans can agree upon … and that’s that John Fisher hasn’t been the model of ownership in the East Bay.

The A’s-Giants comment, however, isn’t the only thing where Manfred has shown a dizzying lack of respect for the game during his time in office.

There is also the time that he called the World Series trophy “a piece of metal” as he tried to defend the apologies from the Houston Astros in the wake of the cheating scandal that enveloped the franchise and made sure that other MLB teams wouldn’t retaliate against them by purposely throwing at them.

Baseball’s unwritten codes be damned. This is Manfred we’re talking about here, and this is someone who doesn’t appear to understand the nuance of the game on a number of levels. Yes, he apologized for the “hunk of metal” comment, but the damage was already done.

There is nothing that can be done about the handling of the sport and all of the public relations gaffes that may come with it until Manfred vacates his post. However, MLB owners can make a stand soon by showing that whoever takes over the role cares as much about the game as he or she does about making a profit.

Granted, owners are motivated by MLB continuing to grow and prosper, but there is also only so many self-inflicted black eyes the sport can take as well, and words coming from the leader that cast questions on the sport do no one any favors.

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The excitement is building for the 2024 MLB season as spring training camps have opened. However, take a look around social media and you’ll see that there’s excitement about a change of MLB leadership coming down the road as well.

That should tell MLB owners everything they need to know about finding someone to take over who has a passion for both sides of baseball (the game and the money) sooner than later.