Rozner: Here's a problem MLB must address ASAP

  • Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred participates in a pregame ceremony before the opening day baseball game between the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, March 29, 2018.

    Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred participates in a pregame ceremony before the opening day baseball game between the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, March 29, 2018.

Updated 6/19/2018 12:57 PM

Rob Manfred is trying.

You can give the baseball commissioner that much. At least he's trying.


Attendance is down this year, mostly due to weather and tanking, and perhaps to a lesser extent the lack of action on a baseball field, the result of the high-strikeout rate in the launch-angle era that features more relievers throwing very hard with hellacious spin rates.

Manfred is looking for answers and usually comes up empty, wanting to look proactive but instead looking perplexed when he changes rules in an attempt to "fix" a game that's not broken, merely going through a cycle that will eventually correct.

While he forms committees and searches for solutions, we offer a thought for the commissioner.

How about making the product available for those who want to consume baseball in different forms and in different places?

Seriously, the following email is a common occurrence these days, as are similar thoughts on social media, since this has become a weekly topic on our baseball show.

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Tom Lake lives just north of the Wisconsin border, but the same complaints have come from those who live near Rockford.

"I've heard you talk about (the) ridiculous MLB blackouts on multiple occasions," Lake wrote recently. "I'm from Champaign, but have lived in Janesville, Wisconsin, for the past 2½ years. I've had MLB-TV since I moved up here so I could watch the Cubs.

"Now, not only has MLB not done anything to limit blackouts, but they are expanding them. I am no longer able to watch Cubs or White Sox games.

"They claim the lines were redrawn last off-season and MLB-TV was just able to get sites updated to reflect the change. They had no problem taking my $120 in March, though, knowing it would change.

"Now, effective May 31, I'm in a blackout area and there is nothing they will do. Asked for my money back and they are 'seeing what they can do.' It's not even about the money.

"I would pay 10 subscriptions to be assured I could see every Cub game.

"I hope they keep working on limiting mound visits and pitch clocks so the game doesn't move slowly for all the people who can't watch.


"Attendance in San Diego is a little over 7K tonight, one-sixth of capacity. Luckily, I'm not blacked out there yet so I was able to watch something."

This is insanity.

There are fans who would pay a premium, even more than the high cost now, to be able to watch any game, anytime, anywhere.

And they should be able to do that. It's 2018 and there should no blackouts.


Every game should be available on any device at any time in any city and at any venue, including the ballpark.

The generation baseball is trying to capture will not tolerate a sport -- or be interested in it -- if that sport doesn't offer them instant access on any platform given that it's all they know about technology.

Frankly, it doesn't matter what generation you're from. This is the world as we know it.

Now, there are complications because of territorial rights, expensive cable deals and rights fees. These are big problems and the fixes will be more convoluted than some treaties and tariffs you hear about every day.

But, Mr. Commissioner, this is bigger than any problem you have on your hands today and must be addressed immediately.

You have fans who want to watch your games and can't. It's stunning that we have to even have this conversation, but this is happening and it ought to be your top priority.

For the sake of your sport, fix it now.

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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