Rob Manfred Pens Letter to Fans, Comments on Taking over as MLB Commissioner

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2015

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On Sunday, Rob Manfred took over as the new commissioner of Major League Baseball, assuming the post held by Bud Selig for 23 years before he retired.     

And one of his first acts in his new role was to pen a letter to the game's fans via

In the letter, Manfred highlights the great honor bestowed upon him in becoming the new commissioner and the level of responsibility the position carries. He talks about continuing to grow the game internationally and trying to modernize it without losing sight of its traditions.

But perhaps the most noteworthy of his goals, and the one he initially seems to be closely tying his tenure to, is the desire to increase interest in the game among young people, especially in underprivileged areas:

My top priority is to bring more people into our game—at all levels and from all communities. Specifically, I plan to make the game more accessible to those in underserved areas, especially in the urban areas where fields and infrastructure are harder to find. 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. Expanding Little League, RBI and other youth baseball programs will also help sustain a steady and wide talent pool from which our clubs can draw great players and create lifelong fans.

He also spoke of eliminating the defensive shift, as Mark Simon of ESPN shared:

That's a move that could potentially gain some traction, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

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Of course, achieving all of his goals won't happen overnight and dealing with the inevitable issues and controversies that come with being at the helm of a professional sports league will provide its challenges. His philosophy for the future seems to be a sound one, however.

"One piece of advice that I will keep in mind is, 'Trust your instincts and be your own guy.' And I intend to do both," he told Paul Hagen of

One of the perks that comes with being the commissioner? Getting your signature on the official game ball. The MLB on Instagram presented the new ball on Sunday:

In the post-steroid era, it makes sense that Manfred's main impetus would be attracting young followers as the average age of the game's fans continues to get older. Certainly, Manfred will hope he never has to wade through the murky waters of a scandal the scope of the steroid debacle like Selig did. 

Eliminating the defensive shift would also be an intriguing course of action that would force teams to rethink their strategy in terms of how to overcome power hitters with a penchant for pulling the ball.

It's a new day in baseball. It's Manfred's job to ensure that it is a better one as well.

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