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during game four of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 20, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.

Commissioner Manfred discusses changes to the game

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary since Rob Manfred took the helm as the new commissioner for MLB. He made the rounds to members of the media and discussed some new ideas and changes that could come to baseball in the near future.

One of the biggest things he addressed was the possibility of changing the strike zone. The lowest point of MLB’s strike zone is the bottom of the kneecap. Baseball is now researching to see if the strike zone should be brought back up to the top of kneecap, where it was after the 1995 season.

“I’m not in a position to predict whether it’s going to happen or not, I think that the interest in the topic is really driven by the fact that if you look over time there has been a movement down of the strike zone, largely as a result of the way we evaluate the strike zone with umpires.” -Rob Manfred, MLB Commissioner

If the strike zone were to change this year it would need the approval of the Players Association, but it would most likely be discussed in the 2017 collective bargaining negotiations. The reason MLB is considering altering the strike zone is because offense has been declining over the last 15 years.  Raising the strike zone from the bottom of the kneecap to the top is only a couple of inches.

“The bottom to the top of the knees is only a matter of a couple inches, so it wouldn’t be a big adjustment for anybody, but, it may help hitters mentally knowing that the zone is a little smaller (even if only by a couple inches). It could help us check off pitches that look like they might be at the bottom of the zone but are sinking even lower.” -Brandon Crawford, SS San Francisco Giants

Manfred also talked about the possibility of playing games in London, something that the NFL has done in an attempt to bring their sport overseas. Manfred said he’s “very interested” in the idea, but the league hasn’t settled on what teams would make the trip. “Obviously, we want to make as good a first impression in Europe as we possibly can,” he said. Early speculation includes Yankees-Red Sox.

Rumors have swirled in the past few weeks about the NL possibly adopting the DH. Manfred calmed the idea by saying “I think it serves an important purpose in terms of defining the difference between the American League and the National League, and that league definition is important to us from a competitive perspective.”

Manfred also addressed the idea of an international draft, and says he’s in favor of a “single entry” into the league for all players. He also talked about the 162 game schedule, and how it’s difficult to shorten the season because of strict broadcast agreements. With all of the injuries around baseball, many speculated that the league could go back to 154 games. Manfred says it’s “not something you can undertake lightly.”

After the scary incident involving a fan and a broken bat at Fenway Park over the summer, there has been an increased call for more safety netting around ballparks. MLB suggested last month that all ballparks have protective netting in front of seats between the dugouts and within 70 feet of the plate. Manfred sees the situation as evolving, and says the league will adjust to what the fans want.