MLB Commish Rob Manfred sat down with Adweek for a short Q&A which, given the most contentious topic of spring training, led off with questions about Bryce Harper and bat flipping.
Adweek: What do you make of Bryce Harper’s comments about how the sport is “tired” and should embrace players showing more emotion in an effort to appeal to a younger audience?
Rob Manfred: There’s a couple of word choices there I would have preferred that Bryce not have made. Having said that, the general sentiment is that this great young generation of stars that is emerging in the game is going to play the game their way—not a bad thing. Every institution evolves over time, and the fact that the players who played in the 1960s played the game one way doesn’t necessarily mean that players who are playing in 2016 are going to play it exactly the same way. I think younger stars taking control of the game is good in terms of marketing it to younger people.
Do you think baseball should embrace this and have more moments like Jose Bautista’s bat flip during last year’s playoffs?
I don’t see that as a baseball commissioner’s office-driven issue. The players play the game on the field the way they play the game. That’s the point I was trying to make about Bryce’s comments. There’s these great young players coming along; they’re going to decide what’s acceptable on the field.
In summation: Young’uns will be young’uns, baseball’s changing (just like it always has), the players on the field dictate what’s acceptable and what’s not, and Goose Gossage and Mike Schmidt are cranky old men.