GW Baseball's Sheinkop Recounts #OnlyAtGW Moment
Senior pitcher was among number of Colonial baseball players to attend roundtable discussion with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred
The following post was written by GW Baseball senior pitcher Jordan Sheinkop
Baseball Commissioner Discusses Future of Game (GW Today)
Just south of downtown Washington, D.C., in the National Harbor, the Major League Baseball (MLB) Winter Meetings had been in full swing. Every offseason, baseball executives and staff, media, exhibitors and job seekers from around the world converge at the Baseball Winter Meetings to network with peers, fill job openings, attend workshops and discuss innovating trends in the industry. These meetings, however, had an unusual feel as the MLB Player's Association (MLBPA) and the owners of each MLB team were locked in negotiations for a renewal of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Every five years, the two sides must agree to a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) that sets the guidelines for the MLB or risk a labor strike. After it looked like 20 years of labor peace between the two sides may be at risk, an agreement was made and the new CBA was ratified. At the head of the league is the Commissioner of MLB, Rob Manfred.
Just five days after the intense negotiations were finalized, the George Washington University School of Business had the privilege of hosting Mr. Manfred as well as renowned journalists, MLB.com's Richard Justice, ESPN's Tim Kurkjian, and newly-elected inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Claire Smith for a roundtable, question and answer presentation.
Organized by Professor Mark Hyman, GW students, staff and alumni had the opportunity to hear straight from the head of the MLB what factors and gridlocks went into the final CBA as well as many other topics surrounding the game.
As an NCAA baseball student-athlete, it was extremely interesting to see the parallels Manfred drew between the dispersion of diversity and sports. Claire Smith pegged Manfred with a question citing the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in the Major Leagues. Manfred responded with a specific reference to the high interest in collegiate basketball and football and its relationship to the NBA and NFL against the collegiate baseball and the MLB. Manfred's key point was that it was harder for baseball to lure kids from different racial backgrounds to playing baseball when sports such as football and basketball can offer more full college scholarships and create higher exposure to those athletes that choose that sport. He did make the point however that in each of the last four MLB Drafts, 20 percent of first-round picks have been African-American, which is more than in any time in the last 25 years.
Another aspect of the discussion that was extremely interesting as a baseball player was Tim Kurkjian's question to Manfred about the possibility of pace-of-play rules. The average fan would prefer not to spend upwards of three hours at the ballpark due to excessive pitching changes, hitters readjusting their batting helmet and gloves after each pitch and the pitcher walking off the rubber in-between each pitch, among others. Recently, the Manfred has been open to changing the way baseball is played in order to speed up the game. Rules such as keeping one foot in the batter's box, reducing the amount of time for a pitcher in between pitches, and limiting the number of pitching changes in a game.
As a player, it will be fascinating to see the difference not only in time spent playing/watching each game but how this could end up changing baseball strategy. For example, instead of having a lefty specialist in the bullpen to face one batter and then be taken out, managers might have to look beyond that to see if they can extend the bullpen or keep pitchers in when in other circumstances they might have been pulled. This in turn would affect how sabermetric statistics and advanced scouting would be used. One possibility of this being the very nature of how long pitchers are used as hitters cycle through for multiple at-bats may give teams extended views on how pitchers attack batters as relievers over multiple at-bats. This, would in turn affect defensive shifts--which Manfred discussed limiting or banning as well--from an at-bat by at-bat standpoint.
Professor Hyman opened the presentation by quoting Ernie Banks, a legend from my hometown and now World Champion Chicago Cubs. There is another quote by him that I believe runs true not just in baseball but for life in general. "The riches of the game are in the thrills, not the money."
I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Linda Livingston, Mark Hyman and everyone from the George Washington University School of Business that helped to put this event together as well as Rob Manfred, Richard Justice, Tim Kurkjian and Claire Smith. As a player and a lifelong fan of baseball, being able to observe the top minds in the game discuss the pressing issues that affect the game was a once in a lifetime and an #OnlyAtGW experience.
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