Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred joined THE HERD WITH COLIN COWHERD on FS1 Tuesday to discuss the state of the game, the importance of the All-Star Game, performance enhancing drugs in sports and his relationship with Commissioners of other sports.
Commissioner Manfred on performance enhancing drugs in sports: “The most nagging headache for any sport is performance-enhancing drugs. Our approach with this – and it has taken a long time to get this kind of equilibrium, is we feel we have the very best testing program in professional sports. The World Anti-Doping Agency seems to agree with us. We do 22,000 drug tests a year; we catch low-profile players and we catch high-profile players. It is rigorous, but we are realistic about it. There is no, ‘we solved that problem,’ because there are always new things out there, new technology and new temptations for players. You have to stay vigilant on the issue and you’re going to have little episodes where you have a series of positives, but it’s a reality of sport. We think we’re in a very realistic position. We feel like we’re doing everything we can to combat it, but never feel self-satisfied that we solved this problem.”
Commissioner Manfred talks about interactions with commissioners of other major sports leagues: “I had a little sit-down with Adam [Silver], Roger [Goodell] and Gary [Bettman] last week. We were all in Sun Valley at a conference. We have a set of common interests and problems. Particularly at the beginning, Adam’s transition was very much like mine. Everybody kind of knew Adam was the guy for a while even though David [Stern] was still there. Adam was tremendously helpful to me in terms of figuring out what that transition should look like and how to make it as successful as his was.”
Commissioner Manfred on the potential of Chicago Cubs winning it all: “I have to acknowledge the Cubs winning the World Series would be great for the business of baseball.”
Commissioner Manfred on the importance of the All-Star Game: “It’s interesting, the rules on the All-Star Game in terms of participation were changed in exactly the direction you suggest during the last CBA, and I suspect you may see more of it. Our All-Star Game is important to us for two reasons: number one, it really is the best of the All-Star Games. It sounds braggy but it’s hard to debate that. And the fact that it’s played for something, matters. That idea that frankly was a Fox and [MLB] collaboration in terms of putting meaning in the game was a really good change and one that’s helped make the game important. The third point about our All-Star Game is that our postseason is different. We can’t schedule the World Series in Phoenix, whatever the date is, in February like they do Super Bowl. We’re going to play it in the markets where those fans have played for those teams all year long and that’s the way it should be. And as a result, the All-Star Game like you see here in San Diego is our best opportunity to showcase the sport and we need to make sure that that game continues to be a really compelling entertainment product in order for that showcase to matter.”
Commissioner Manfred discusses the topic of gambling in sports: “Gambling is one of those balance issues for sports. You have to have a set of rules for players or people involved in the actual play of the game that protect the integrity of the sport. There can never be any hint that gambling has somehow encroached on those determining the outcome of the contest. On the other hand, its hard to ignore that things like fantasy, which some see as a form of gambling, that it increases fan engagement and that’s really important. Fans have huge entertainment alternatives out there and you need to be realistic about the need to use the tools of engagement to keep your sport popular. The trick there is appropriate regulation of gambling. Obviously illegal gambling can be a very dangerous thing for sports to be anywhere near. The things that Adam [Silver] has said about the need for comprehensive federal regulation in gambling are really correct.”
Pregame coverage of the 87th MLB All-Star Game begins live from FOX Sports’ set behind centerfield at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif. tonight at 7:00 PM ET on FS1. Coverage shifts to the FOX broadcast network at 7:30 PM ET.