Rozner: MLB doesn't need change for sake of it
Change is always good when change is for the good, especially the greater good.
But change for the sake of change is seldom good.
That seems to be where Rob Manfred is right now, trying to make change for the sake of it.
It was a bad week for the baseball commissioner, who was making a national media tour while trying to sell whatever it is he's trying to sell.
He doesn't seem to be sure, throwing pace-of-play stuff against the wall and having it thrown right back at him by those who actually play the game.
Yeah, the stars of baseball think Manfred has gone 'round the bend, and there have been several times over the past few months when Manfred has quickly walked back a ridiculous idea.
Among other mistakes in recent days, Manfred attacked players association boss Tony Clark and his constituents for being slow to negotiate significant and fundamental changes to a game Manfred later admitted "does not need fixing."
While talking out of both sides of his mouth, Manfred threatened unilateral alterations next year if the union doesn't get on board and embrace whatever the commissioner floats.
It seems clear now that Manfred wants to be the star of baseball, the savior who knows what's best for the game, knows better than those who play it for a living.
That part of his personality is not endearing or healthy for the game and it's the part some feared when he got the job. They remember him testifying before Congress in March 2005 when so many MLB witnesses were embarrassed, but Manfred came off looking worst, showing contempt for the process and irritation with lawmakers.
He adopted the same annoying posture this week when he ripped Clark and the players, often including a flippant remark and condescending chuckle for anyone who doesn't agree with him.
To his credit, Clark was calm when answering Manfred in a conversation with Yahoo's Tim Brown, suggesting Manfred's idea of cooperation was blanket approval and acceptance of everything Manfred tosses in the air.
"The challenge is appreciating how any one particular change is going to affect the play on the field and … an individual's career," said Clark, whose responsibility it is to protect the players. "That's always the sensitivity there.
"You do your homework against whatever the analytics say is going to happen and the experts say is going to happen, while also reflecting on what our history has been, while also … appreciating that careers are a part of the conversation.
"And then you try to take all of those things and determine where you can go and how quickly you can go, or how slowly you have to go out of respect for everyone involved, the industry and its history.
"You will never hear me offer anything about our game and suggest, flippantly or otherwise, that it should move one way or the other and it's going to be easy."
Kris Bryant reminded reporters in Arizona last week that Cleveland's Bryan Shaw almost threw a wild pitch on an intentional walk in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series, but pitchers won't have to throw four balls anymore while all of MLB saves a minute or two a week.
Congrats, Mr. Commissioner.
"I love the game the way it is," Bryant said. "The game's been the same to me since I was young, so I don't think there's anything wrong with it.
"I think that's what makes our game great. It's a long game and we play 162 games a year and there's more strategy involved with it. I think it could be a slippery slope once you start changing all these things."
Said Joe Maddon, "I don't really understand the pace-of-game issues because I don't really pay attention to that. I'm just locked into managing the game. The 9 innings go 2 hours and 15 minutes, or 3 hours and 20. As long as you win, I don't care."
Cubs fans would undoubtedly agree, especially after watching their team play very long games en route to a World Series title in 2016.
But Manfred may have shown his true motivation in an interview with ESPN Friday morning, when he touted the monumental shift in the way managers get their information in the dugout.
"I like the idea of projecting that modern view of the game," Manfred said. "We went to iPads in the dugout last year to get rid of the guys carrying out the big notebooks full of matchup information.
"I think that appearance is helpful for us with the younger audience."
Yes, that's the answer. Those notebooks were destroying interest in the game for anyone who can use a smartphone.
You'd think he was kidding, but for Manfred it's all about the "appearance" of being "modern." Managers with iPads is absolutely going to gets kids excited about baseball.
It really tells you all you need to know.
The truth is change that is good for baseball is a good thing. No one is against that. But change to be able to say you made change is pure nonsense.
And so far that's all Rob Manfred has to offer.
• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.