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M.L.B. Extends TV Deal With Fox Sports Through 2028

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“Players welcome the expanded opportunity to express themselves and engage with fans through innovative design,” Tony Clark, the executive director of the players’ union, said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing their creativity and individuality on the field in 2019.”

Beginning in 2017, players were given a taste of more freedom — but only for one weekend. On Players Weekend, as it was called, they chose nicknames for their jerseys and wore whatever cleats they designed. Some players have pushed the limits with their cleats, even finding designers online to paint unique designs. This season, Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger and Chicago’s Ben Zobrist complained publicly about stern warnings or discipline they received from M.L.B. over their cleat choice or designs.

One reason players, not to mention shoe companies, embraced Players Weekend is that M.L.B. has fallen behind in player promotion and self-expression, compared to other professional leagues, particularly the N.B.A.

“We believe that this agreement strikes the appropriate balance between the shared goal of permitting players to express their individuality while maintaining reasonable restrictions on shoe colors and designs,” M.L.B. Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

Among the other announcements Thursday, M.L.B. said it had struck a new deal beginning next season with DAZN, an international sports streaming service launched in 2016, for a daily highlights and live look-in show. The deal is for three years and reportedly worth $300 million. DAZN’s efforts were led by John Skipper, the former ESPN president who resigned abruptly last December.

In addition to the content deals, M.L.B. owners voted to give Manfred, 60, a five-year extension, through the 2024 season.

Manfred was elected commissioner in August 2014 and officially replaced Bud Selig that following January. Under Manfred, the league has posted record profits, enacted pace of play measures, focused on youth and international growth, and negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union that went into effect in 2017.

Before becoming commissioner, Manfred was M.L.B.’s chief operating officer with experience in labor relations and strengthening baseball’s drug testing program.


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