Has there been strife or disagreement in the past? Oh, absolutely, but we knew one thing, the commissioner of baseball loved the game. Did it prevent bad choices? No, not always, but knowing it came from a good place was certainly an improvement over what we’re seeing now.
I’m not here to judge his personal life. I’m not saying Rob Manfred is a terrible person or a bad father, husband. No, we’re going to just stick to business here, the business of baseball. You know, the one with a trophy that according to the most powerful man in the sport amounts to little more than a hunk of metal.
The trophy is just a symbol, it’s the symbol of a culmination of nine months of work, at least. From February when pitchers and catchers report, through a grueling season complete with ups and downs, injuries and rehab, relationships with coaches and other players. Time away from family, sore muscles and ice baths all along the journey. Finally, you make it to October, a dream you’ve had since you weren’t even allowed to throw a curveball. As it stands now you have a one in ten chance of being part of the team that raises that hunk of metal. That meaningless symbol that your commissioner just affirmed means far more to you than him.
When you think back to the early days of Spring, it seems like it’s been years now, but there we were talking about the ongoing cheating scandal in baseball, when our commissioner uttered those telling words. He probably said it out of frustration if we’re honest, but the fact it was in there alone was enough to show at the very least, this man, had no clue what it took to acquire that championship trophy.
We should have known back then that he lacked the temperament for what was coming. We should have assumed right then, officiating a game in which you so openly disrespect the men who play it would only breed discontent. How could we expect players to negotiate with a man who clearly thinks their contributions to the wealth of his game amount to little more than a worthless trinket?
This throwaway comment is not solely responsible for negotiations breaking down, I’m not that naïve, neither are you I’m sure. No, I look at is simply as an underlying belief that the business of the game was more important than the very soul of the sport. Is love of the game a prerequisite for the commissioner gig? No, but it sure used to be a consideration at least.
So here we sit, with a commissioner who has shown distain for the players, carelessness toward the championship and this man is the one person who can actually open the gate and let the game come back. What a mess.
Perhaps the 1999 decision to eliminate the American and National League Presidents was a mistake. The role exists today but it’s purely ceremonial, they have no teeth. Maybe relying on one man to officiate the sport with no checks and balances was a mistake. Sure, most of his decisions are voted on by the owners, but maybe having a conscience at the top of both leagues gave the owners more of a backbone to stand in the way of their game being run into the ground. Maybe this is just fresher in my mind than the countless other times this league has tried to eat itself alive.
I’m certainly not saying we have to love everyone who holds the office of commissioner, but respecting them would seem to be a lowest common denominator to shoot for.
Time for Rob Manfred to go. He can’t be trusted with what’s next.