“Of course, we won’t mind if you look around,” you’ll say. “It’s only twenty dollars per person.” They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it. For it is money they have and peace they lack.”– Terrance Mann
In radio they tell you that the audience turns over every fifteen minutes. I’m not sure how often it turns over on a blog. I assume I may have some new readers although I have to assume that most of them are repeaters. So, I’ll reframe the discussion for the benefit of the newbies even if most will just roll their eyes and gloss over the rest.
This used to be a baseball blog. It got its name based on the two books with that title. Baseball was always a first love of mine. I collected baseball cards as a kid, but I didn’t really trade and sell them as much as I just collected knowledge. That grew into collecting hats and jerseys from teams gone by. I collected statistics and grew my knowledge. That led to four books total on the subject of baseball.
At 5 PM EST on March 1st, the commissioner announced that six games would be purged from the baseball season. It is the second time Rob Manfred has been unable to salvage games in a season. He could blame 2020 on the pandemic and the pandemic certainly takes most of the blame, but he effectively botched any chance of playing 100 or 120 games because of his inability to make a deal.
Any baseball worth their salt knows exactly where the quote from above comes from. Any baseball fan worth their salt can rattle off the most famous numbers or relive the greatest moments in the game’s history. When you are a commissioner of the sport you first and foremost must love the sport. Loving the sport enables you to take all of the stakeholders and force them to negotiate in good faith. It also prevents you from succumbing to hairbrained schemes that alter the game for the worst.
Rob Manfred must resign as commissioner. He must resign not because he couldn’t broker an agreement between owners and players. He must resign not because of the ghost runner at second rule, the Astros cheating scandal that was really a league wide cheating scandal, or because he absolutely fumbled the pandemic negotiations. Those are all just symptoms of the disease. He must resign because he clearly doesn’t love baseball. He doesn’t understand baseball at its core. Therefore, he doesn’t understand when he makes the moves he makes how that eats away at the sport itself.
The offseason has a certain arc to it. There are owner’s meetings. There are general manager’s meetings. There are winter meetings. Free agency opens in November and has multiple waves of activity. Teams and players exchange arbitration numbers and have hearings. There is a Rule V draft and trades that boggle the imagination. More importantly, there is the excitement from fans that weaves its way through all of that. They call it the hot stove league. Fans were robbed of it this year.
Owners locked out the players in December. Keep in mind that many of the issues they two sides are currently debating have been known since the labor strife of 2020. They predicted this then. When asked why he waited until February to start negotiating, Manfred simply fumbled about and talked about the last ten days of negotiation. Yup Rob, that was the point of the question. YOU HAD 80 DAYS PRIOR TO THAT AND YOU DID NOTHING.
This is not one of those “make me commissioner” kind of pleas. I’m not qualified for the job, but I do have one qualification that Rob does not have. I love baseball. Of course, I’m not the only one. I’m not even going to try to argue that my love for the sport is superior to anyone else’s. It is superior to Manfred’s and that is clear with the way he talks about the game. It’s clear with the decisions he’s made to make the game shorter. People who love baseball aren’t desperate to have less of it.
The job of commissioner is difficult, but it is also easy to explain. The commissioner is a shepherd of sorts. They marry the interests of owners, players, and fans together to grow the sport and make it profitable for all. If one of those groups distrusts the commissioner he can’t effectively do his job. If more than one group distrusts the commissioner then the entire sport will sink. Don’t mind us now, but the sport is sinking.