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July 17, 2018

Robert Manfred

Washington, D.C.

Q. We have Commissioner Manfred, kind enough to take some time and answer all of our questions from e-mails from fans back at home to this crowd here today. So we couldn't be more proud to have him here, and I'd like to give a warm Washington welcome to the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred.

Q. Commissioner, thank you so much for joining us. I spoke with a little girl, five years old, and she said, "Excuse me, is the Commissioner coming?"

"The real one?"

So this is really special, the excitement, hype of the city. We have special guests we'd like to welcome, players and the staff from the 2018 perfect game All-American Classic, welcome to you. And members of the USA Baseball 18 and Under National Team, as well. Thank you so much for being here.

You look at all the fans and all the excitement, I'm wondering over the next couple of days what you're looking forward to the most?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: You know, I love the All-Star Game and I think of it kind of as a week, almost. It's really spread out to be a multi-day event but for me the highlight is always the actual game. Love the Home Run Derby but I always look forward to Tuesday night.

Q. I was driving around and looking at all the monuments and all the architecture. Is it extra special to have a game so rich in history with a backdrop like Washington, D.C.?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: It's a great venue for the All-Star Game, our nation's capitol. I think baseball has a unique place in American culture so it's really fitting that we're here.

Q. It's a culmination of the first half of the season and what an epic first half it was, personal achievements off the charts, some surprising teams, as well, no-hitters. When you look back over the course of the first half of the season, what stands out for you? What are your takeaways?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: I'm getting a little tired of saying this, actually, but the biggest thing for me is the continuing influence of new, young players in the game.

You know, it just seems like every year, we have a new group of great, young players. They have an impact right away, and I think it's one of the things that makes our game exciting and particularly appealing to younger people.

Q. That means the second half has a lot to look forward to and live up to and we will certainly be watching and waiting. You know, you mentioned all the kids and all of the kids here -- in a recent article in the New York Times, it documented the decline in youth athletics over the past decade because of electronics and other distractions. But over the past three years, there's been an uptick in basketball and baseball youth initiatives spearheaded by Major League Baseball. (Video played).

Academies, dream series, "Play Ball" baseball and softball are the most participated team sports in the country, very, very cool. It's a tribute to these programs. How are they changing the game?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Look, I think our youth programs are our most important initiative. It's about our future in two respects.

First of all, our game is compelling because we have the greatest athletes in the world and we have to be out there competing and make sure that kids choose baseball so that we have great athletes for the future.

But equally important, youth participation builds fans. If hen you play, you're much more likely to be a fan as an adult, so it's important for our business in the future.

I am so excited about your youth programs. I went over and saw some of the Commissioners Cup's games over at the Nationals Academy. Hats off to the Lerner family for having a great facility. You see the young people how enthusiastic and engaged they are, the level of diversity and how good they are. It's really phenomenal.

The other thing I love that I saw on the tape, the idea of girls playing baseball, the identity of the two games I think is a great idea that Tony Reagins had, and it's important for us and it's another area we're going to be investing in the future.

Q. One of your first public appearances as commissioner-elect in 2014 at the little league World Series, that visit symbolized your priority on youth participation. So I'm wondering from that point, to now, Commissioner, what you're proudest of?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Honestly, the single thing that I like the best is the level of participation that we've achieved. We feel like we made an investment in the youth space. We found some unbelievable partners.

I just saw Steve Keener from Little League out here he can which check but not only Little League, groups like Cal Ripken Baseball. Cal has been phenomenal in working with us. I feel like that investment has had an immediate return in making sure that kids are playing a safe, helpful game and insuring the future of our sport.

Q. Since you've been commissioner, one of the many things I've admired is that you are very accessible to the fans, to the people, to the players, and anyone who has a question. You love a good baseball chat and conversation.

Q. So we're going to open up the forum to e-mail questions sent in by fans, as well as people here today.
What gave you the idea of becoming a commissioner for Major League Baseball?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: To be honest with you, I really didn't get involved in baseball with the idea of becoming a commissioner, and I would tell you even a year before I was a elected, I was not really thinking about it.

My dad gave me some great advice and I think it's good advice for young people. He told me when I started my career to worry about the job I had, and the next one would take care of itself, and that turned out to be good advice for me.

Q. What's your thoughts if there was a major league softball team in the near future?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Look, we love softball. I have to tell you, there was a great story almost a year ago now. We've done a small charity event in the little town that we live in in Westchester County for Make-A-Wish where our softball team plays against a softball team that Boomer Esiason, the former NFL quarterback has and Jennie Finch came to play as part of our team.

In the past, we had a lot of young baseball players show up. When generally was there, we had a line of girls way out to the outfield just looking to get their jerseys signed. We think there's real power in the game of softball. It's a place where we want to continue to encourage play, and I think that softball will grow to the point that there eventually will be another professional league.

Q. What is the commitment level of MLB players more active in the communities?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Look, one of the things that differentiates our players, it is their involvement in the community. I think that the key for us is to make opportunities available that are appealing to our players, and I think at the very top of that list is opportunity to work with young people to ensure that people are playing the game in the future.

We've had phenomenal luck with our players. I'll give you a great example, Clayton Kershaw obviously plays in L.A., but he was a major funder of the development of the academy -- the youth academy that we have in Texas. That's because he's a resident of Dallas in the off-season, and it's just one great example of how our players give back in their communities and are particularly interested in giving back when it involves kids playing the game.

Q. How do you feel the voting process for the All-Star Game should be changed, if at all?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: I like the current voting process. You know, we always look at everything we do. We always try to do a postmortem and say, are there problems, are there things we should be thinking about.

But the two things that I like about the current voting process is that No. 1, the fans get to pick the starters. After all, this whole event, everything that goes on here in Washington, D.C. is about our fans, and their voice should be heard in the process.

The second thing I like about it is the players also get to pick another part of the roster. There's a special honor associated with your peers selecting you to be in the game, and I think those are the two best features of the current process. Even though I'd be prepared to tinker with it around the edges, I see those two components as really important.

Q. If you ask ten people in the stands, I think five people, and maybe you agree or disagree, would say, I want to see the stars of the game. Albert Pujols, even if he's batting .220, I want to see him on the grandest stage. And others say, I want to see the second baseman, who is not a household name, but he's batting .350. Which side do you lie?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: I'm a merit person. I come out on the idea that if the players feel and the fans feel you're the best at your position, and that those are the players that should be here, I think it's important in terms of growing the profile of our young players to give them an opportunity to be seen on a national stage like this.

So obviously Albert Pujols, players like that, are crucial to the game, but I think it should be the guys that are performing today that should be in the All-Star Game.

Q. Is there anything currently on the table to improve offense, to reduce the 3 true outcome percentage: Strikeout, walks and home run.
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: There's a lot of conversation going on inn the game. It's being discussed among ownership, and I do think there is some concern with respect to that issue. We've also approached Tony Clark, told him that we'd like to have a dialogue with the players on this. Obviously the players' input on this issue is really important, and we're hopeful that Tony will be in a position to have that dialogue in the near future.

Q. Can you please this off-season, come up with new rules that eliminate the shift?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: The shift is a very controversial development in the game. I think the real question is what sort of rule will produce the outcome that people are looking for. In other words, is there a change that we can make with respect to defensive alignment that's going to get away from the 3 true out comes, and I'm not sure -- I'm not sure there is.

I think it's something we need to discuss more and I think it's something where we need to get a lot of player input, but if you think about it, right now players have made a decision that the home run, trying to hit it over the shift, is more valuable than the hit to the opposite field.

So even if you move players back to the opposite side of the diamond, it's unclear that they are going to change their approach at the plate. So we've got to think that one all the way through.

Q. Evolution of the game. One more e-mail question. What do you believe could be modified in regards to replay to improve the game?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: I think the trick on replay, on average, and I think it's important to understand this, replay adds one minute to each of the 2,430 games that we play over the course of the season.

So for me, that one minute, nobody is more interested in quick games than I am, but that one minute is a good trade for getting important calls correct. If you start from that premise, the key becomes how do you shorten the time that replay takes so fans are not sitting in the ballpark, and I think the key there is technology.

The best example of that: The move to super slow motion cameras at first base makes the first base reviews much quicker, and I think we continue to use technology to make the replay process as effective and efficient as possible.

Q. Do you expect MLB to expand any time in the near future, and if so, where do you consider ideal places for the teams to be located?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: I think that what I've said about expansion publically is we have two issues with respect to stadiums, Tampa Bay and Oakland, that need to be resolved, before we turn realistically to the issues of expansion. Once those are solved, I would love to get to 32 teams. There are a number of cities, Canada, México and in the United States that want Major League Baseball. That's a great thing for our sport. And 32 teams does a lot for us from a schedule format perspective.

Right now we have five-team divisions; if we could get to eight 4-team divisions, the schedule would be more flex and I believe give us more opportunities to do things in the schedule to market the game, and it would also allow us to look at our post-season format, and maybe things as aggressive at geographic alignment and things like that.

Q. As a high school players, there's a lot of emphasis on showcase events. How can MLB help develop and prepare for the next level players like me?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Showcase events are an interesting phenomena. Our major concern with respect to showcase events is access. We want to make sure all kids from all backgrounds have access to showcase events.

We actually run some events of our own in order to make available opportunities that may not otherwise be available, and I think going forward, the economics of that process, while I realize it's around important part of kids getting developed and signed, we're going to continue to focus on the economics of that process to make sure that kids from all backgrounds have an opportunity to be seen.

Q. What is MLB's stance on getting a team in Portland?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: When you talk about particular cities, you notice I didn't mention any, right. If you single one out, somebody else feels like, oh, maybe I'm behind. And actually the level of excitement in that city can get pretty high.

So I'm going to only say this about Portland. They have got a really aggressive group that's interested in having Major League Baseball. I think the demographics in Portland would put it on a list of viable candidates in the event that we do expand.

Q. The Yankees and Red Sox in London coming up. What are your expectations about that?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: I think London is going to be like the games in Cuba that will really be huge events for Major League Baseball. We have looked for an opportunity to play our first game in Europe. Because it's so important, we are going to take one of our best rivalries there, the Yankees/Red Sox. The early returns, I think there was a lot of excitement. In the first 24 hours, we had over 50,000 people register for tickets. So we think the games are going to be great. There's going to be lots of people want to be on that traveling squad.

Q. With the significant advancements in technology and baseball, even to the point the spin on the ball is measured, why not use it to call balls and strikes at the major league level; basically an the automated strike zone. I knew this question was going to come.
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: I had a great stock answer to this question, which basically said, a year ago, that technology is really not up to it; once the technology gets there, we'll have to talk about whether it makes sense.

Interestingly, in the last year, the technology has really, really improved.

Q. Now we need a new answer.
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Great strides on the technology. But even with that great technology, I think we need to have a conversation that involves all the constituencies in the game, the umpires, the players, the owners, about what would happen if you took from the home plate umpire, the obligation to call balls and strikes. I think one of the things that allows the home plate umpire to control the game, to manage the game on the field, is the authority that's derived from calling each pitch.

I think we need to proceed slowly in terms of deploying that technology.

Q. Perhaps there would still need to be an umpire behind the plate, just getting the strike zone correct. Something we'll consider the conversation in the future.
Harold Reynolds, how many are big fans? He's going to join us in just a little bit. He can't wait to talk with you, but we've been detailing the fun of the first half and all of the wonderful plays and accomplishments. We thought we'd give you some images of the first half for you fans to enjoy. (Video played).

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Good to be here. Thank you. Thank you. I've got some questions for him. First of all, how amazing is this Play Ball Park?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: You know, I thought when we started a couple of years ago, it was a great idea, and you remember, it's just a little diamond, and the fact that it's grown into this I think is absolutely phenomenal. It's kind of a flagship for our youth initiatives and really excited about it.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: You guys enjoying it? I'm telling you, it's phenomenal.

The first thing I thought about, I was going to bring my camera up here and take a picture of us, a little selfie. Social media and all that is so big now and so prevalent. What is your advice to maybe somebody sitting out there looking for an opportunity to go to college, get a job, not even in baseball but just in life. What's your thoughts on social media?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Well, look, I think social media is a really important mechanism for driving fan engagement in sports. It used to be, people would get up in the morning and they would go Reed the box scores, find out what happened last night, who won the games.

Fact of the matter is, when we go to bed, we know that already. So the way that -- what fans want today is they want access to players that goes beyond just what they observe on the field during a game.

I think people who know how to use social media, who can help athletes interact with fans, but avoid the pitfalls that can occur with social media, that's a great skill set for people.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: I was a little shocked with all the gambling things that went through Congress and whatnot. How is baseball going to handle the gambling issue and how do you look at that?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Well, we think about it as a challenge and an opportunity. On the challenge side, we need to make sure that whether it's federal legislation or it ends up going state by state, and that's an open issue, still, that the laws that get passed put us in a position to protect the integrity of the game. You'll hear state regulators, in particular, say, we know how to deal with integrity issues.

The fact of the matter is, our office, the Commissioner's Office was founded in order to defend the integrity of the game. We are not going to delegate that responsibility to anybody and we want to make sure that the legal framework allows us to do that job, and that's the challenge.

On the opportunity side, the research is clear: Gambling can be a source of fan engagement for adults, and we need to take advantage of that opportunity. We need to help gaming enterprises build products that allow fans to interact with our game with two caveats.

We need to protect our young fans so that they are not exposed too much, and we need to make sure that while you have an opportunity to engage, that gambling doesn't come too close to the sport, too close to the broadcast, on uniforms, things like that.

So that's the challenge. We're going to try to find that sweet spot.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: It's a big challenge, it really is.

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: It's a huge issue right now.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: One of the issues last couple seasons has been pace of play. You saw the Futures Game, yesterday, amazing.

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Great athletes yesterday.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Some great young players. We'll get into that. But the pace of the game, because they have instituted a 20-second clock in the minor leagues, I really felt like these pitchers are kind of conditioned now, and this game flew by. I know they are not trying to work a walk, and they are up there swinging a little bit more aggressive, but pace of play, it seemed to really flow.

Why has there been such an emphasis on pace of play?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: I think pace of play is about a larger issue of watching the game, seeing how the game is changing over time, and beginning to manage that change.

You know, the change that's taken place is the result of GMs looking at data, analyzing data, developing new theorys, passing those down in their organizations. It's kind of organic. It's happened out there. I think we are at a point in time where we need to begin to manage that change. Pace of game, we thought, was sort of the low-hanging fruit. Everybody should be in favor of moving it along, making the games as crisp as possible. But I think there's a broader conversation that has to be had about things like pace of game, defensive shifts, use of relief pitchers. We should be having that conversation.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: One conversation we have had a lot about, the Commissioner and I go way back, about how young the game is getting but also the initiative of being able to diversify the game, African-Americans, you name it, everybody across the globe. In yesterday's game, we had eight kids that were African-American background and really came -- a lot of them came out of our draft, so it was amazing to see that. How did that make you feel.

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: It made me feel great. Listen, this is a bottom-up process. It involves us investing in playing opportunities in under-served areas and allowing those investments time to bare fruit.

I think our number at the big leagues is about nine percent African-American, first round of the draft the last five years, about 20 percent. That's real progress for us, as those young men begin to make it to the major leagues. But equally encouraging, you saw them yesterday in the Futures Games, equally encouraging to me was the quality of play I saw at the Commissioners Cup at the Nationals Academy, tremendous diversity, real athleticism and I think it bodes well for the future of our sport.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Seems like we talk a lot about African-American initiatives, but youth initiatives, period. One of the things that Commissioner Manfred wanted to do when he came on was to continue to make sure he got kids involved, because he understood, and I'm stealing his thunder here, but he felt like age four and five, you engage a fan, you have that fan for life, and that's really something he's really done a great job of.

When you look back now and you see the game is growing with those youngsters and those fans that are being built, what encouraged you the most about that thought you had maybe four years ago?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: I think what is encouraging to me that we see concrete returns from the investments we've made in the youth space. We can measure it. Most of the measures come from third parties and it encourages us to make more investments when a business sees that it can spend a dollar and get a real return that helps the game in the future, it just encourages to you do it more and we are going to be doing more in that space.

Q. Do you think multi-sport athletes like the recent A's first-round pick Kyler Murray and Tim Tebow, are good or bad for the future of baseball?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: More important than the future of baseball, I think multi-sport athletes are good in terms of athletics generally, our business. I'm going to talk about one of your cohorts a little bit. I think one of the best induction speeches I've ever heard at Cooperstown was John Smoltz's and the best part of that good speech was when he talked about the importance of multi-sport athletes.

Now, John was a great multi-sport athlete. I was a lousy one. But you know, the experience of playing multiple sports I just think is a great thing for young people. As much as I want kids playing baseball, I think it's a good thing for them to be playing multiple sports.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: I echo that 100 percent. I look back at my life and career and a family of multi-sport athletes, when I caught a ground ball on a backhand and flip it behind my back or whatever, it's like playing basketball. Or I catch it over my shoulder, it was a pass.

Any time you have that, and in this day and age with specialties of, your kid's got to stay in one sport early, how do we combat that when you start thinking about the dollar as a parent and you're sitting there and they are already saying at ten years old, you're doing this or that. How do we combat that?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: The trick there, and it raises an issue that's really important with respect to youth sports, it's education of coaches: Coaching standards, getting coaches involved with the right training so that they understand that you're more likely to get Harold Reynolds, the major league player, if he plays a lot of baseball but if he does some other things, too.

I do really believe that training and education is crucial there.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Off of that, how about injuries? We've seen a lot of injuries, and I really believe that you've got to exercise pull multiple part of your body. If you're going to throw all year round, you're going to end up with some bad arms. What does the research say about that?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: One of the first things, we had a spate of Tommy Johns in the big leagues a couple years ago and we started a long-term project in terms of looking at the clubs and what they are doing with their players and whether there are developmental differences but one of the things the doctors came back to us is you're No. 1 problem is you're getting damaged athletes when you draft them.

That's why we went to the Pitch Smart Program with USA Baseball, to encourage coaches to keep track not only of what pitchers are doing when they are playing for your team, but a lot of these kids are playing multiple teams. You've got to keep track of where they are pitching, how much they are pitching in each of these different settings.

So when you talk about multi-sport athletes, taking that break for three months while you're playing some basketball instead of playing baseball 12 months a year, that's a good thing. It lets the young body part rest, and it's a really good thing in terms of overall development.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: That's from the Commissioner of baseball, people.

Q. Has baseball considered allowing a team to allow a player to re-enter a came in a long extra-inning game?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Look, we struggle with extra-inning games because of the issue of injury, right. I mean, we don't want to deprive the fans of that exciting ending and therefore, we play them out till the end.

But when you get into 14, 16, 18 innings, there's always this risk of injury, and bringing players back, we thought about this issue. We actually think it might have the effect of prolonging games, making them even longer, and we don't think that's a particularly good outcome.

Q. Similar to what the minor leagues have done with starting the 12th inning with a runner, what do you think?
HAROLD REYNOLDS: I'm starting to buy into it. I think we've lost our way when it comes to the minors. It's about development. I know everybody wants to win and win their league and everything else, but at the end of the day, you want your best product on your major league team. I'm speaking like an owner now, right.

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: This is really important. We started talking about this extra-inning rule. We used it in the World Baseball Classic, and people thought that was a prelude of bringing it to the big leagues and there's a lot of controversy surrounding it. People were calling up my voicemail at night and leaving crazy messages about it.

You know, then it kind of resurfaced with the idea that we would use it in the minor leagues, and it was overwhelmingly supported for use in the minor leagues for exactly the reason you point to, Harold. The minor leagues are about development at the end of the day and one of the key issues in development is how much pitchers pitch, when they pitch, and when you get into really long extra-inning games in Minor League baseball from a development perspective.

Q. We have another e-mail pertinent to this season, because there's two potential 100-plus win teams in the AL east. Do you foresee the wild-card playoff being extended sometime in the near future?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Let me tell you how we ended up with one game. I think people think we decided on a one-game playoff because it's a great start to the post-season, it's really exciting and people love knockout games. All those things are true.

But the fact of the matter is, we settled on one game because the overall purpose of the playoff format was to reward the division winners, right. We wanted people to play hard all the way through the 162 so that there was a difference between being a 100-win team that was in first place and being a 99-win team that was in second place.

So once you decide that that's important, you start to think, is one game the right playoff or two-out-of-three.

The problem with two-out-of-three is it would take probably five days to play. If you take the Division winner and say you have got to wait five days before you play again -- now you answer the rest of the question.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: Yeah, you're penalizing the team dramatically.

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: You're penalizing the team that won the division, and that's really how we settled on one game.

So I understand the visual of, gee, I won 100 games but I got knocked out in a one-game playoff; I understand that's going to be controversial. But the fact of the matter is, that team finished second in that division, and there should be a penalty for being second instead of first.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: I have a question off the playoffs and the rules that you've implemented. The Commissioner has been involved a long time in baseball, and it's pertaining to the PED suspensions. This year, Robinson Cano gets popped. He's got 80 games; he's not eligible to play in the post-season.

Talk about the drug testing and how stringent it is. You see a guy go off and hit 25 home runs in the first half and the first thing everybody thinks is PED and the testing is not there. Baseball is pretty strict. Can you tell us about the drug testing?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: I think it's important to start a little bigger than testing. Our drug program is really broader than just testing.

We do the most scientifically-advanced testing that's available. We test both blood and urine because you can uncover different substances, depending on which sort of test you do. The idea of getting into blood testing, very controversial. Obviously much more invasive. We also keep track of our players over time to detect any small change that might be going on.

So we have state-of-the-art testing and we do more blood tests and urine tests than any other sports organization in the world. Even though we have a relatively limited number of athletes, we do more tests than anybody.

In addition to testing, because no testing system is perfect; there's always something new and it takes a little time to catch up with the science. We have a whole investigative staff that's charged with making sure that they can't identify potential drug users, even if they are testing clean at a particular point in time.

So the combination of those two things, with the education that we do, starting with our very, very youngest players, we think gives us a very effective program.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: And before that decision is rendered, how much is -- this has gone through a long process before you go ahead and send that out, right?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: An initial test comes back positive, okay. Whenever a sample is selected, it's split into two pieces. The initial sample comes back positive; the second sample, the player is notified and the second sample is tested again. It's always tested by us, but it may be tested again by a player in his own lab, just to make sure everything is right. All that happens.

HAROLD REYNOLDS: So you let them go to their own lab?

COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: Yeah, they go out, test it at their own lab and we do a confirmatory test ourselves. Usually there's a lot of conversation between my office and the MLB PA about exactly what the facts are. Nobody has an interest in a player being identified as having used a performance-enhancing drug by mistake.

So we take our time. We make sure we know exactly what happened before the suspension is imposed. Once the suspension is imposed, if it's a first-time offender, it still doesn't become public. That player has the opportunity to appeal to a neutral third party arbitrator, and that case gets heard on an expedited basis to make sure there's been really due process before the announcement is made.

Q. We have one question we'd like to end on. Given the rousing success of the MLB Food Fest in terms of ticket sales, are there any plans for another incarnation of the event, or perhaps more optimistically, a permanent MLB restaurant?
COMMISSIONER ROBERT D. MANFRED JR.: I'm not going to bite into getting in the restaurant business, I've got a nice little business that I'm trying to run day-to-day.

I will say this about the Food Fest: It was a fantastic event. We went, went with my whole family, as a matter of fact, and we really loved it. There will be more MLB Food Fests. What we're talking about is whether we want it to be a stand-alone event or we want it to be an adjunct to some larger event like the All-Star Game and hopefully we'll make a good decision on it. I know one thing for sure: You will see another food test.

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