Rob Manfred is somehow still MLB commissioner, despite his follies as pro sports including baseball try to return from the world’s health crisis. Out of America’s four major sports leagues, many believe he is the most inept at his job.
However, Manfred still plods on and creates problems everywhere he turns. Under his reign, viewing figures have declined, and players earn less money while owners fatten their purses. Overall, it’s not sustainable. With the recent health crisis, things have worsened, in part because of MLB’s disastrous restart ‘plan.’ Let’s take a look at 20 of Manfred’s worst mistakes and reasons why he needs to leave the commissioner’s office immediately. His contract ends in 2024. Baseball might not survive until then.
20. Pitch Clock
Manfred wants to speed up baseball but refuses to do it the right way. He won’t consult the players or fans but instead shoves rules down their throats. For example, he seems intent on bringing in the pitch clock even though nobody really wants it.
Baseball has experimented with pitch clocks in the minor leagues for years. In short, the 20-second timer begins when the pitcher receives the throw from the catcher. MLB implemented it during the 2019 spring training. Manfred insists he has the right to unilaterally impose a pitch clock for the regular season.
Yet another rule that nobody wants or asked for. Manfred wants to inject more action into the game but doesn’t realize how to do it correctly. Baseball is just as much about the mind as it is about the body. Too bad Manfred has gotten this one so wrong.
In short, this new rule means a starting pitcher or relief pitcher must face a minimum of three batters unless they put the offensive team out. Despite the fact that practically everyone is saying no, Manfred appears happy to fall on his sword. Maybe someone should sharpen it for him because he probably can’t even do that right.
Manfred commits many verbal atrocities. However, he once referred to The Commissioner’s Trophy as just ‘a piece of metal.’ Remember, this is the trophy every serious baseball player sacrifices their life to win. That’s up there with his most diabolical gaffes. Named after his office, he still couldn’t pretend it had any meaning to him.
Then he came out with a mealy-mouthed apology to the trophy. Manfred dishonored the very title that all of the teams battle it out for. Numerous players condemned him for his words because they were so embarrassing.
Manfred has a history of being inept. To sum, his reign is a total mess but we shouldn’t be surprised. That’s because he was one of Bud Selig’s lapdogs and learned the tricks of the trade from his precursor. Needless to say, it hasn’t worked out well.
The Steroid Era was an absolute travesty, tainting Selig’s reign as commissioner. However, don’t forget that Manfred was active back then too. He learned how not to do his job properly from the very worst. Yet somehow, the owners contrived to gift him the top job because that’s baseball.
Most people would agree the baseball season is already too long, but not Manfred. He infuriated fans by supporting the expansion of the playoffs from 10 teams to 14. This is ridiculous because it obviously dilutes the standard of the playoffs as it becomes a bloated mess.
However, it will give the MLB a richer television rights package, which is what this is all about. Everyone knows that it won’t magically grab new fans. To sum up, it’s just greed, plain and simple.
Bizarrely, Manfred chose not to punish any Astros players on an individual basis for their roles in their 2017 sign-stealing scandal. This makes no sense because there is nothing to put players from other teams off from doing the same thing. Serving up a few bans would also have damaged the Astros’ hopes of making the playoffs.
Instead, he gave them immunity in exchange for testimony. He left the door open for a copycat because he was afraid of the player’s union coming for his head. In sum, Manfred is a weak leader who was too afraid to make an example of those who did wrong.
That brings us to the next point of who Manfred actually did punish. First of all, he stripped the Astros of four draft picks and hit them with a maximum fine of five million dollars. However, when it comes to individuals, he only targeted two men: GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch.
This allowed the Astros to fire these two men and relieve the pressure on their players and owner Jim Crane. Did the suspensions really hurt the Astros? We won’t know until the new season because now they have a new GM and manager after Crane fired Luhnow and Hinch. They dodged a bullet.
Anybody that saw Crane’s weak apology and the way he put his players on display like robots will know that the man is a cowboy. If he’s really sorry about the sign-stealing then LeBron James is going to follow in Michael Jordan’s shoes and spend a season in the minor leagues.
Manfred let him off the hook. Technically the commissioner works for the owners, so he helped one of his bosses walk away unscathed. He stressed Crane’s innocence, but we all know that’s not true. While the loss of four draft picks will hurt the Astros, he should have stripped them of their World Series wins.
It’s also a fact that fans have lost trust in their teams since Manfred took over from Bud Selig. In short, he’s enabled owners to take advantage of their rosters and shift the most expensive players in their teams. Needless to say, many fans have very little faith in their owners.
Just look at how the Red Sox got rid of Mookie Betts. Meanwhile, the Cubs are trying to do the same thing with Kris Bryant. It’s a true display of weakness from Manfred and greed from owners. Furthermore, it threatens the lifeblood of baseball as a sport.
This loss of trust and Manfred’s general talent at making a mess of everything has resulted in many casual fans dropping off. Sure, you still have the diehards, but there’s little doubt the MLB is in a bit of a pickle. Can you believe that hockey – the worst-run major sport in the US – looks like they’ll be back before baseball?
In short, he has made MLB the laughingstock of American sports. About 68.5 million fans attended major league games during the 2019 regular season, down from a peak of nearly 80 million in 2007. The problem is that baseball has become regional under his reign and that’s why the World Series has suffered.
One of the worst things about the recent Astros sign-stealing scandal was the fact that Manfred definitely knew something was up. The Astros used nefarious methods for three or four years in what was, according to the Washington Post, an open secret.
In sum, Manfred must have known. But he didn’t want to open up a can of worms so his office didn’t investigate. However, that’s like ignoring a hole in your crotch and hoping it will disappear. It won’t and suddenly you’ll be showing a lot more than you wanted to.
Manfred’s middle name is chaos. Or it might as well be because that’s the effect of most of his policies. One of the most recent controversies was the decision to shorten the draft down from 40 rounds to five. The idea was that this would save costs after the bedlam of the recent health crisis.
However, the truth is that teams saved just about one million dollars each. When it comes down to it, that’s not a lot at all and left a lot of people unhappy. Some believe that it will result in a golden age for college baseball, but not everyone is on board with that opinion.
Owners offered the players a 50% share of revenue, rather than the pro-rated portion of their salaries the sides agreed upon in March 2020. For players, this was unacceptable because it was too close to a salary cap. In sum, we all know what happened in 1994.
The owners (with the support of Manfred) tried to bully the players into backing down, while also painting them as greedy villains in a time of crisis. Needless to say, it’s obvious which side the fans took. The players argued that they will put their health at risk, so how can they justify playing for less?
Manfred is also willing to put MLB players’ lives at risk. This isn’t an exaggeration because MLB is so unwilling to spend money that it wants players to assume the risk of essentially playing without proper testing. Contrast that to the bubble system the NFL plans to use.
Instead, MLB will choose not to test players regularly and proposes that players sign a health waiver to defer blame if they get sick. Remember, many coaches fall into the at-risk bracket, not to mention family members. So as well as taking away their money, he wants them to risk their health. For this and many other reasons, Manfred has to go.
Manfred has had to endure significant public outcry. First of all, the way he handled the Astros sign-stealing scandal caused a lot of unrest. The public isn’t interested in TV deals or how much money the owners are making. In short, they just want to see a good, honest baseball game.
Meanwhile, he has messed with the fans’ feelings by supporting the owners in their attempt to vilify players. At the end of the day, it’s not the owners’ shirt that fans buy. Nobody wants to be John Henry when they’re a child, they want to be Mike Trout. It’s long past time for Manfred to realize that.
The problem for Manfred is that there is a visible alternative to him. It’s not his fault that he has the charisma of a wet towel, but it’s not exactly useful in a time of crisis. Having somebody in charge with a bit of conviction and energy can make a lot of difference, at least in terms of public perception.
That’s where someone like Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall comes into the equation. It doesn’t have to be him, but somebody of his ilk would definitely be able to at least inject a bit of power into proceedings. MLB needs change before it’s too late.
Are we heading towards another players’ strike? It seems so because Manfred is allowing the owners to set themselves up in opposition to their rosters. The cold war is already brewing with the outrage over player salaries during the current health crisis still bubbling.
Furthermore, MLB has failed to help promote its players effectively. According to the New York Times, less than 45 percent of Americans know who Mike Trout is. In contrast, 95% know LeBron James and 89% are aware of Tom Brady. In sum, it’s all about the owners and the money.
Why did the owners reelect Manfred? The short answer is because he’s about as spineless as a jellyfish. They know they can get him to do whatever they want. As you can see, owners are setting themselves up in opposition to the players, so this does not bode well for the sport.
Furthermore, they actively damage the office of the commissioner by setting them up to fail. MLB owners don’t want somebody with half of the energy of Adam Silver coming in and ruining their money-making schemes. In short, they want to maximize profits, which is why he’s in the hot seat until 2024.
We talked earlier about his ‘piece of metal’ in reference to the Commissioner’s Trophy. You would let him off if it wasn’t for the fact that you can’t trust a word that comes out of his mouth. One of the best recent examples was when he said the following.
Manfred said: “The owners are 100% committed to getting baseball back on the field. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m 100% certain that’s gonna happen.” It’s so transparent what they’re trying to do in reducing the number of games it’s shameless. But how can you say two different things at once?
The problem is that Manfred is just so out of his depth that you have to wonder what is next. Before, not many people knew about him because he was quietly helping to run MLB into the ground. But now his ineptitude is visible for everybody to see. It’s a case of one scandal too many.
And even if he gets past the salary dispute and the league restarts on time, the next question his what will he do next? Nobody except the owners wants him there because he has the charisma and substance of a baked potato. Where will MLB be in another five years? You could certainly argue it would be much better off without him.