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Commish Manfred likes wild-card playoff format, Chicago chaw ban

Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday, February 22, 2016. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

NEW YORK — After watching the Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates in their one-game wild-card playoff last October, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says he is more comfortable than ever with not tinkering with the postseason format.

Manfred said he watched the third-place Cubs beat the second-place Pirates 4-0 behind a masterful outing by ace Jake Arrieta, then met with Bucs president Frank Coonelly. Manfred said Coonelly validated what he already believed: The best way to avoid that one-game tightrope is to win the division outright.

 

“When you hit that hot pitcher, it’s disappointing — one game and done,” Manfred said during a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors on Thursday. “I’m comfortable with where we are and that’s where we’re going to be for a little bit.”

Manfred also discussed Chicago joining several other cities in banning smokeless tobacco at sports stadium. The Chicago ban goes into effect at Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field in June.

“Baseball’s position with respect to smokeless tobacco has been clear for a very, very long time,” Manfred said. “We have a ban on smokeless tobacco in the minor leagues. In major-league cities where bans have been enacted, we expect our players to comply with those bans.”

During his wide-ranging discussion with editors, Manfred stressed the youth movement that has swept through baseball the last two years, singling out Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year.

 

He also said this new generation of players will help shape the game in the future and attract younger fans.

That brought up recent criticism from Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, 64, who has blasted many of today’s young players, notably Jose Bautista and Bruce Harper.

Manfred bristled at the topic.

“He’s entitled to have his opinion,” Manfred said. “I don’t happen to agree with him on this particular topic. Goose and his peers developed a set of unwritten understandings about what was acceptable on the field when he played the game, and I think the generation of players that are on the field today are going to do the same thing. I think that it may not be exactly the same as it was when Goose played, and you know what, from my perspective, that’s good thing.

“I think to the extent that you believe, and I actually do, that Bruce Harper is a spokesman for this generation, I suspect that you will see more exuberance from our players on the field. It’s a good thing. I think that to the extent that you’re trying to market to a younger audience, our younger players taking control of the definition of those unwritten rules is a lot better than some guy who’s 67 years saying I did it that way and you ought do it the same way.”