Just days into his tenure as commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred put to bed fears that his sport will be the next to place advertisements on uniforms. Quoted in the New York Times, Manfred said:
There was more chatter about that in the game 10 years ago than there is now. It’s just not a hot issue for us. I think people have great respect for the way our uniforms look. I don’t foresee that one; I really don’t.
MLB has survived almost a century and a half without having to resort to selling space on their uniforms, so many fans will take this as a given. Still, it’s reassuring to hear the commissioner make these comments, as other major leagues, most notably the NBA, seem to be creeping towards featuring ads on uniforms. San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer made headlines last year when he said he thought ads on MLB uniforms were coming.
Manfred has made a splash early on by fast-tracking (as it were) plans to speed up the game, implementing a pitch clock in double-A and triple-A ball. However, baseball fans are known for their appreciation of tradition, especially when it comes to the visual appeal of the game, so Manfred was wise not to suggest that ads on uniforms were coming. When (or if) that time comes, it will be a difficult sell.