The 2019-2020 Major League Baseball offseason has been mired with controversy, scandals, and blockbuster transactions. It has been the wildest rollercoaster of emotions that baseball fans have experienced in a long time, and the ride took yet another sharp turn on Tuesday night.
In a video produced and published by Momentum, a YouTube channel that was co-founded by Trevor Bauer himself, the Cincinnati Reds right-hander openly expressed his frustration with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and his handling of the game thus far through his tenure.
This video comes on the heels of Bauer openly criticizing Manfred’s proposed changes to MLB’s playoff format that was reported on Monday.
No idea who made this new playoff format proposal, but Rob is responsible for releasing it, so I’ll direct this to you, Rob Manfred. Your proposal is absurd for too many reasons to type on twitter and proves you have absolutely no clue about baseball. You’re a joke.
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) February 11, 2020
Manfred’s playoff proposal was met with sweeping disapproval from many players and media alike, but Bauer’s response seemed to attract the most attention. Bauer has earned the reputation of being one of baseball’s most outspoken and bombastic personalities, which could be the reason why his comments had more of a spotlight on them.
Bauer did not stop there. In this video that he released just days later, Bauer expanded on his criticism of Manfred and the overall state of baseball. He pointed out how baseball’s draconian policies regarding uniformity and pace of play are causing the younger generation of fans to sour on the game, in general.
“As the commissioner, figure it out man … how are we supposed to get them interested in the game when they can’t even see the damn game?” Bauer said. “And on top of that, they can’t even go to Twitter, where all the young people hang out.”
In regards to social media and the sharing of highlights and key moments via those platforms, Bauer is 100 percent correct. The NBA dominates social media during its regular season because of the exact example that Bauer referenced in his video. When Stephen Curry, LeBron James, James Harden, or any star player in the NBA makes a great play, the play is all over Twitter within seconds. Fans who may not follow the teams that those players are on can still see their amazing highlights thanks to the NBA allowing that content to be shared openly via social media.
By contrast, if Mike Trout makes a great catch or hits a 450 foot home run it will take much longer for MLB to approve that media to be shared on social media platforms. This is mostly due to the presence of MLB Advanced Media, which is a limited partner organization that controls a majority of the game’s audio and video content. MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) operates MLB.com, as well as the 30 individual team websites via MLB.com. The company also operates MLB.com radio, MLB TV, and MLB Network.
MLBAM generates approximately $800 million per year in total revenue, but it has stood in the way of fans and other media outlets sharing content from various games during the 162-game regular season. Bauer also brought up the issue of blackouts preventing fans from watching their favorite team because MLBAM prevents them from doing so in certain markets. Fans are paying for MLB TV, and they don’t even get to see all 162 games because of TV exclusivity deals and, thus, are blacked out more often than they should be.
Along with his opinions on MLB’s media strategy, Bauer also expressed his desire for the sport to allow players to express themselves more freely on the field. He used the example of players wanting to wear custom-colored cleats, which is currently against league policy. In the NBA, players wear custom sneakers all the time, which is often showed off on social media and as a vehicle to show support for social justice or charity.
Something like custom cleats may seem silly on the surface to some fans, but little things like that draw in younger fans and helps get them invested in the sport, and that’s something that baseball desperately needs now more than ever.
Bauer capped off his diatribe with one final jab at Manfred.
“Hit me up. I’m sure you can contact me,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll probably be fining me.”