Dear Fellow Baseball Fans,

Like you, I am devastated that Opening Day has been postponed this year, first due to COVID-19 and now because of ongoing labor disputes between the owners and players union (both of which are completely out of my hands, by the way). After all, a spring without baseball is like a home run race without a whiff of suspicion.

Believe it or not, I have been accused of not being a real fan of the game, with some pointing out the fact that I played tennis in high school and college, or my comments about the World Series being a meaningless “piece of metal.” The truth is, you won’t find a bigger fan than me. Yep, I sure do love the old bat-and-ball game, with all its hits and misses, and its homers and awayers. As the fair and impartial arbiter of the entire sport, I’m not allowed to have a favorite team, but I try to watch at least one game each month, unless there’s something better on TV, like my all-time favorite show, Suits.

Others have accused me of only looking out for the interests of the owners, which is patently false. The products—I mean players!—are my absolute top priority. You could even say that I’m the “players’ commissioner,” given all the work I’ve done on their behalf, like not punishing any of the Houston Astros for the sign-stealing scandal and in fact helping to cover the whole thing up. My favorite player of all time has to be Roy Hobbs. Boy could he really swing the lumber. And what a head of hair! I swear he could have been a movie star, were he not a real-life baseball player, which I would know, since I am, after all, the commissioner of Major League Baseball.

But let’s face it, baseball is kind of boring, and long. Dear God is it ever long! I mean, in the time that it takes to sit through a single baseball game, you could watch four episodes of Suits (seriously, you gotta check it out!). When—or rather, if—baseball returns, a few subtle changes are going to have to be made to help speed up the game and make it a bit more palatable for our short-attention-span generation.

First of all, on top of the initiatives we’ve implemented over the past few seasons to increase the pace of play, we will now be introducing a “skip-play” rule, inspired by Netflix’s “Skip Intro” function. Now whenever a game starts to drag on a little too much, umpires will have the option to skip ahead a couple innings. We’re hoping that this will eliminate any lulls in action, such as when a pitcher has gone several innings without giving up any hits and not much is really happening.

Secondly, similar to kickball, batters will now face a maximum of three pitches. If a batter allows three pitches to go by and hasn’t put the ball in play, he will be called out. We have to keep things moving. None of this “working the count” bullshit anymore. No one wants to sit through a 10-pitch at bat. As such, pitchers will now be encouraged to throw the ball down the middle of the plate to make it easier for hitters. If after two pitches the batter has not made contact, the pitcher must take a little something off the last pitch.

Lastly, no more mound visits. There are too many old and out-of-shape pitching coaches who take forever to make their way out onto the field. It’s painful to watch. Besides, what’s so important that you can’t wait until after the inning’s over? (You’re not talking about me, are you?) If you absolutely must communicate with your pitcher during the game, give the sign for “ear muffs,” at which point the opposing team will all cover their ears, and you can talk from the dugout.

Likewise, we tried to cut down on the time it takes to make a pitching change by re-introducing the bullpen carts, but we found that it still took too long. So instead, teams will now designate one relief pitcher who will wait directly behind the mound at all times. We realize this presents some challenges in terms of interfering with play, but we’re confident that the designated pitcher will be able to remain out of reach so long as he lies perfectly still on his back.

Oh, also, we’re gonna have fewer games—like a lot fewer games. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to play 162 games in the first place? That’s way too many! I mean, anything can happen in 162 games. A team might be hot for the first half of the season and then fall off near the end. No one wants that. I’ve always felt that the most exciting part of any sport is predictability. So for now we’ll go with 60 games and take it from there. My hope, and I’m sure I speak for baseball fans everywhere when I say this, is that by 2030 we will be able to wrap up an entire season in a single weekend with a round-robin tournament. That way we can all get back to enjoying the summer.

Sincerely,
Rob Manfred


And now a quick joke...

I like to think that Marco Polo found himself in the end.