Rob Manfred has been Commissioner of Baseball for greater than half a decade. It might be unfair to say that his time shepherding the game has been forgettable, largely as a result of it’s been so luridly disagreeable. Whereas obscene quantities of cash pour into the sport, fattening homeowners’ already-grotesque wallets, MLB gamers have watched groups balk at spending, preferring to commerce away their stars than hit a delicate luxurious tax threshold. Ticket costs proceed to rise. Token gestures however, Minor League Baseball is getting ready to disaster. After which, after all, there’s the Houston Astros investigation, which appeared pretty fishy on the outset and now appears virtually completely botched.
Of us appear fairly fed up with the entire thing. Oakland Athletics pitcher Jake Diekman, as an example, just casually suggested that MLB needs a new commissioner. And right here is Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Justin Turner laying into Manfred for a messy press convention wherein the commissioner prompt the World Sequence trophy was “only a piece of steel.”
I don’t know if the commissioner has ever gained something in his life. Perhaps he hasn’t. However the purpose each man’s on this room, the explanation each man is understanding all offseason, and displaying as much as camp early and placing in on a regular basis and energy is particularly for that trophy, which, by the way in which, known as the Commissioner’s Trophy.
So for him to devalue it the way in which he did yesterday simply tells me how out of contact he’s with the gamers on this recreation. At this level the one factor devaluing that trophy is that it says ‘commissioner’ on it.
Enabling league-wide cost-cutting after which letting mass dishonest go primarily un-punished isn’t a great way to get gamers on one’s facet. Presiding over an financial surroundings that encourages a daunting variety of groups to deliberately worsen is hardly going to attraction to followers. And, after all, MLB’s present relationship with the minor leagues is sort of existentially dangerous. Messing round with pitch clocks and limiting mound visits is sweet, I suppose, however there’s a well-known saying about deck chair association which involves thoughts right here.
With relations between gamers and homeowners strained to a close to breaking level, a serious scandal whistle-blown on his watch, and attendance falling yr by yr, it’s tempting to counsel that Manfred’s time as commissioner has been a whole and unmitigated failure. However to take action could be to misconceive his job.
In a great world, a commissioner could be a disinterested guardian of the game. All the things they do could be for the nice of the sport, from rule adjustments to punishments. This isn’t a great world.
The commissioner is elected by MLB’s homeowners, who’re hardly disinterested events. Sports activities franchises are massive enterprise, and that disagreeable truth has been increasingly apparent as groups change posture from making an attempt to win (or, a minimum of, pretending) to making an attempt to maximise earnings. For those who’re appointed to your job by a small cabal of extraordinarily rich individuals, your job can in all probability be assumed to contain holding them glad and never a lot else.
Manfred, who was elected on the third poll following the top of Bud Selig’s tenure, is certainly holding his bosses glad. In 2018, MLB homeowners voted to increase his contract as commissioner by way of 2024, as glowing a efficiency evaluate as a joyless baseball puppet would possibly hope for. Provided that homeowners are positioning themselves versus the gamers and detached to followers, this isn’t encouraging. Manfred is a nasty commissioner as a result of the workplace of the Commissioner of Baseball is ready as much as create dangerous commissioners.
The homeowners are playing that followers gained’t care when, as an example, the Boston Pink Sox kick out their finest participant for the sin of being costly, or when the commissioner’s workplace tries to show a blind eye to a championship-winning group being credibly accused of dishonest. For Manfred and his bosses, the expectation is that dopes spring everlasting.
How lengthy are we going to place up with it?