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Opening Day Letter from Commissioner

Play Ball! A letter from Commissioner Manfred
View as web page | April 3, 2016
Office of the Commissioner
Dear Fans:

After a busy off-season and spring training that included games in Australia, Panama, Mexico and Cuba, I am very excited that today at 1:05 p.m. (ET) Major League Baseball’s 2016 regular season begins at beautiful PNC Park in Pittsburgh. During the first two days of the 2016 season, there will be seven national broadcast games on ESPN featuring all 10 Clubs that participated in the 2015 Postseason. On Sunday Night Baseball, the Kansas City Royals will begin the defense of their 2015 World Series Championship against the National League Champion New York Mets.

As we begin our 2016 regular season, millions of fans around the world can realistically hope that their team will be playing October baseball and contending for a World Championship. Our game is characterized by great competitive balance. The last five seasons have produced more playoff teams – 24 – than any such period in baseball history and we have now gone a record 15 straight years without a repeat World Series Champion.

Fans can also be excited about the great group of young stars in our game today. These extraordinary young players also stand out as ambassadors for the sport. The national broadcasts on Sunday and Monday offer fans an outstanding opportunity to see our talented, young and diverse players who come from around the world to play Major League Baseball.

Last year we worked with the players to create a noticeably faster and crisper pace to our games while maintaining the elements of baseball that make our sport so special. Baseball has shown that creativity need not come at the expense of the history and traditions that fans value. We will continue to embrace technology, which is symbolized in part by allowing our coaches and players to use iPads in our dugouts and bullpens for the first time. With the assortment of digital products MLB Advanced Media makes available, technology improves access to the game and its players that fans of all ages desire.

Opening Day is a celebrated tradition. I hope that our fans can take a moment to enjoy the excitement with their family and friends. This Monday, I invite one and all to put their #CapsOn as we stand together and celebrate Opening Day. The 2016 season promises to be a spectacular one for Major League Baseball, and on behalf of all of us who have the honor of serving the game, I thank you for your loyalty to our National Pastime.

Play Ball!


Robert D. Manfred, Jr.
Commissioner of Baseball


Opening Day Essay

“Swing batter swing,” the young boy yelled. “I love to say that at a baseball game.” The young boy continued to enjoy the game that we know as America’s Favorite Pastime.

Enriched in the mind of a young boy, is his favorite player making a diving catch or taking a full swing for a homerun. It starts at a young age, and continues throughout live. This is baseball and one of the reasons why I love the game.

My love for the game began when I was young and had the dream of being a Major League baseball player. I loved the nostalgia of the game and what it stands for. Forever in my mind is the bedroom I created when I lived at my parent’s home — I had pictures, stories, autographed baseballs, bats and hats decorated around. I lived the game, dreamed the game, and treasured the game.

“Watching Ferris Bueller?” I asked the little boy, in the scene when they all cut school for the day and attended a Chicago Cub’s game. He began to laugh. Of all places, we were at a Long Island Ducks game (members of the Atlantic Professional Baseball League) in the heartland of Long Island, known as Citibank Park.

At a time when the politics of the game went on the backburner and the overriding enthusiasm and support of Long Island to support the Ducks was real, the dream became a reality.
It is for the hot dogs, peanuts and beer and the chance to see up and coming stars and some stars there were in the Major Leagues, but attempting to make a comeback — Rickey Henderson, Mark Whiten, Carlos Baerga — to name a few. I also mention in this book a meeting with Jose Rijo of the Reds, he’s one of many good ballplayers that I have had the chance to meet and talk with. They are the game, they make the game.

Besides also going to Ducks’ games, I have been on baseball road trips to live the reality. I went to see the Glens Falls Tigers (AA-ball) when John Smoltz, former member of the Atlanta Braves and part of one of the best rotations going and one of the most feared teams of the ’90′s — besides the New York Yankees – carving his craft to become one of the best pitchers in Major League baseball. I traveled to the Toronto Skydome to see the Toronto Blue Jays play against the Yankees, Fenway Park, Old Shea Stadium, and many minor league ballfields.

When I was asked to write a poem for the book Baseball Stories for the Soul, I wanted to write something that America would remember the pastime by.

So, I wrote “America’s Pastime” and it went like this:

Yesterday there was Willie, Mickey and the Duke.

Today there is the Rocket, Junior and Big Mac.

Tomorrow there is Bip, John and Steve.

It is not music, but a game that makes its own music.

From the singing of the anthem…To the crack of the bat.

To the Duke hitting a homerun in Ebbets, Big Mac taking his swing at 70…80…Junior going downtown.

Each with something in mind — to win.

America’s game — Baseball.

The National Pastime.

This is why I love baseball, America’s Pastime.

Let it Begin…

Let the Countdown Begin…

8 Days to…

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