New commissioner wants to promote sport to youth

Sun Jan 25, 2015 6:19pm EST
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(Reuters) - New Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred wants to increase participation in the sport among America’s youth and modernize the game without interfering with its history and traditions.

In a letter to fans published on on Sunday, his first day on the job, Manfred outlined his ambitions for the sport.

MLB’s former chief operating officer, Manfred, 56, takes over the top post from Bud Selig, who stepped down after 22 years as commissioner.

The change comes at a time when baseball’s national TV ratings are in decline amid concerns the game is too slow to interest today’s youth.

Games last year took an average of three hours and eight minutes, almost 30 minutes slower than three decades ago.

Manfred plans to focus on promoting the game in economically deprived areas and teaming with youth leagues to produce a new generation of fans and players.

“Giving more kids the opportunity to play will inspire a new generation to fall in love with baseball just as we did when we were kids," he wrote.

The new commissioner said he also wanted to look for ways to modernize the game.

“Last season's expanded instant replay improved the game's quality and addressed concerns shared by fans and players. We made a dramatic change without altering the game's fundamentals.”   Continued...

Oct 22, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; MLB newly elected commissioner Rob Manfred speaks at a press conference before game two of the 2014 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants at Kauffman Stadium.  Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports