PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred joined The Cook and Poni Show on Monday to discuss the success of the first Little League Classic between the Pirates and Cardinals on Sunday night in Williamsport, Pa., and the future of the Pirates under the current structure of the game.
“We loved the event and would love to go back,” Manfred said.
He admits it might not be something that happens every year but something that could be done in the near future but things would need to be worked out with the players union first.
Would Pittsburgh be an option every year with their close proximity to Williamsport?
“I wouldn’t expect that,” Manfred said. “For our special events, we try to rotate among the teams to give all of our teams exposure, and there are a number of teams that are close enough to Williamsport that they can do an event like this.”
Manfred said it was a great exposure for the game, introducing the younger generation and giving fans an up-close experience with Major League players.
The Pirates are back home Monday to face the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are a reminder to the Pirates fans of the gap between a small market team like Pittsburgh and the big market, big-spending Dodgers.
Manfred tells the guys that the system as it is currently constructed gives all clubs a reasonable chance to compete and that the Pirates have done a great job of fielding competitive teams, but he does admit that it’s not a level playing field.
“There are obviously teams with resources that make it a little easier for them to compete because of the money,” Manfred said. “But I do believe that all of our clubs, no matter what the market size, have a reasonable opportunity to compete and win.”
He points to the Cleveland Indians being in the World Series last year and the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series the year before and being in the World Series the year prior as recent success stories for the small market teams.
‘I understand that the fans want their team to win every single year, but the fact of the matter is that it just doesn’t happen every year,” Manfred added. “There are ups and downs. We worry about that and we do everything that we can to make sure that all of our teams have a chance to compete.”
So why Pittsburgh? Why should fans think that Major League Baseball views them as an important market?
“Pittsburgh is one of the oldest franchises and it has a great history,” Manfred said. “We want them to be successful, and I think Pittsburgh is and will continue to be a successful Major League franchise and I think over time you will see the Pirates be a very competitive franchise.”