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Back to the Future: Baseball Edition


Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has his hands full with multiple controversies.Arturo Pardavila III, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

By Alex Kielar 

Everyone loves the Back to the Future movies as they are some of the more rewatchable movies ever. In Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to 2015, which was 30 years ahead of the year the movie took place, in 1985. With that in mind, if time travel existed and we could travel ahead 30 years, to 2052, what would be different about Major League Baseball?  

Rob Manfred is the Biff Tannen of our world and in 30 years, baseball looks drastically different because he decided to put his evil hands all over it. The commissioner took away the minor leagues entirely and now teams have to have a limit of 26 players in total. Bat flips are gone as well as any kind of celebration, bases are 20 feet apart, and there’s a 10-second pitch clock. That along with much more needs to be stopped to save baseball.  

Let’s first set the scene with who would be the Marty and Doc of the baseball world.

Obviously, Marty was a 17-year-old high schooler in the movies. So, who’s a current high school ball player who could save the future of baseball from the wrath of Rob Tannen or Biff Manfred?

The first kid that comes to mind is the son of Atlanta Braves’ great Andruw Jones, Druw Jones. The young outfielder is the top overall prospect in the 2022 MLB Draft and could have an even higher ceiling than his father. He is someone who can really help to grow the game along with the other young prospects and players, such as Bobby Witt, Jr., who made the Opening Day roster for the Kansas City Royals. With Jones as the Marty, the Doc Brown in this scenario is Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.  

Jones and Ryan enter the DeLorean and reach 88 miles per hour to travel to 2052. When they get there, they see how much the game has changed and need to stop Manfred.

They realize that to stop Manfred from ruining the game, they have to go back and stop him from ever becoming commissioner.

So coincidently, the year they have to go back to is 2015, when Manfred officially took over as leader of Major League Baseball. Jones and Ryan talk the owners into not hiring Manfred as commissioner, and instead talk them into going with Tim Brosnan, another top candidate at the time.

Brosnan oversaw the league’s new national television contracts, the launch of MLB Network, and MLB’s deal with SiriusXM worth $650 million. He was also in charge of licensing and sponsorships, while also being behind MLB Fan Cave, which showed the fun and human sides of players. Manfred has a law and business background, and so does Brosnan. But Brosnan was the better candidate and was looking to grow the game by using clever marketing, which has been lost on Manfred.  

Now, how would an older Nolan Ryan and young son of Andruw Jones be able to talk the owners into making this decision? Well, since they are from the future, all they would have to do is tell them that the Chicago Cubs broke their 108-year drought in 2016.

The owners (besides the Ricketts family perhaps) would look at them like they were crazy. To prove it to them, Ryan and Jones would bring a championship ring from 2016 to 2015. Without getting into the semantics and how that could potentially mess up the whole space-time continuum, the owners believe them.

Brosnan is instead hired as the new commissioner and immediately incorporates new marketing factors into the game. That includes working out a deal to get rid of blackouts and making it easier to share content across social media. Players are able to market themselves and are able to do bat flips and other celebrations without repercussions. The game goes global and more fans get into the game while bringing new players who maybe wouldn’t have been interested in playing before. Not just at the major league level, but minor leagues, college, and high school showcase circuits are marketed a lot more and baseball is once again “America’s Game”.  

Ryan and Jones go back to 2052 to make sure things changed for the better. They get there and see that the game has changed, as it always does. But this time it changed in good way with the game grown beyond what anyone could ever imagine.

Ballparks are filled with fans, and every stadium has incorporated betting areas, where fans (of legal betting age) can make live bets on the action. The fans are involved in all the live action.

Seeing that the game is in good hands again, the unlikely heroes return to 2022. Jones is drafted first overall later in the year and goes on to have an outstanding career and help grow the game into what it is destined to become. He becomes one of the best players of his generation and leads the charge on growing the game.

Meanwhile, Ryan watches from a distance but smiles on a brand new day for the game he loves. With Manfred not becoming commissioner, he goes back to being a lawyer and stays far away from the game of baseball.  

Alex Kielar is a writer and editor with Prime Time Sports Talk (@TalkPrimeTime) where he covers MLB and fantasy baseball. You can find him on Twitter @AlexKielar as he provides baseball news including Yankees prospects and a lot more. 

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