Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was at Minute Maid Park Tuesday night to honor former Astro Bob Watson. A pregame ceremony was held for Watson who earned the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Other former Astro greats were in attendance including Craig Biggio.
“I think that of all of his accomplishments… The one that sticks out with me was his involvement with the Baseball Assistance Team. He was crucial to the organization really growing to a level that it was self-sustaining,” Commissioner Manfred said. “He was a major league player. He was a great general manager who won a world series. He was a great employee in the commissioner’s office, and he was a driving force behind one of the most important charities in baseball.”
The commissioner also had the opportunity to talk about the current state of baseball. One of those points being the rate of play. It is something that he regards as a work in progress.
“There is too much dead time in the game. Fans love our game particularly in the ballpark, they love the overall experience. But in our broadcast audience more so, there is concern about dead time and I believe we can address dead time and remove some of those delays in the game without changing the way the game is played in any fundamental way, because we do understand that our core fan is at heart a traditionalist and loves the game the way it is… We’re going to continue to work on that project, but I consider it to be an ongoing effort. I don’t think that there’s a change, or even a set of changes that overnight fixes it forever.”
He also spoke upon the possibility of Minute Maid Park being an All-Star Game destination in the near future. The last time Houston hosted an MLB All-Star week was in 2004. The locations for 2018 and 2019 have already been chosen with Washington D.C. and Cleveland.
“We have extraordinary demand for All-Star Games right now… Houston was a great All-Star venue in ’04 and I hope at some point in the future to be back here. I will say, a great partnership between a municipality and a ball club in terms of having a great facility and maintaining that facility is something that we always like to see when we evaluate competitive All-Star bids,” Commissioner Manfred said. “The Astros have worked hard to make sure that this stadium has been maintained in really immaculate condition and I do believe that’s the case. They’ve made significant changes here, centerfield, a lot of non-playing area improvements. This is certainly a facility that would merit an All-Star Game.”
Derek Fogel, reporter/host @FogelSaidWhat