Not at all surprising as he’s said as much in the past. But he said it again today:
“I understand why there’s talk because we had a couple pitcher injuries while they were batting,” Manfred said before Friday’s game between the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. “Over the long haul, I’m a status quo person on the DH. I think the difference between the two leagues is a source of debate among fans, and I’m a big believer in the idea of when people are talking about baseball it’s a good thing.”
Like anything else, if and when a number of NL owners want the DH, Manfred will support it. Whether that comes via some sort of change of sentiment by the NL owners or because they see a good opportunity to give the union 15 more good-paying jobs for veterans in exchange for something else they want is of little consequence. Given how people feel so strongly, pro and con, about the designated hitter, there is no reason whatsoever for the commissioner to take a side.
Contrast this with radical changes made in the past such as interleague play and expanded playoffs which had a clear financial driver. In those cases it was OK to risk angering some traditionalists. There was a greater prize. Here there is nothing so compelling. It’d be a bad thing for those who hate the DH. It’d be an improvement for those who like it. But it would not be some sort of no-brainer business decision.
As for that last line — about how he believes people talking about baseball is a good thing — I’m going to take that as a clear endorsement for hardball talk. Not HardballTalk necessarily, but certainly hardball talk.