Le Batard battered the commissioner with questions about baseball's treatment of fans in South Florida.
ESPN radio host Dan Le Batard pestered MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Wednesday with questions about the sale of the Miami Marlins and baseball's treatment of fans in South Florida.
The interview came as many around baseball are upset with the Miami Marlins' offseason. After a group headed by Derek Jeter and billionaire Bruce Sherman bought the team for $1.2 billion, Miami traded away reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton and All-Star outfielder Marcell Ozuna for relatively modest returns. The Marlins' moves, which ownership has deemed necessary for rebuilding, have been widely criticized as shameless cost-cutting by fans, media and even agents—Scott Boras called the organization a "pawn shop."
Before the interview started, Le Batard, a fiery personality who also co-hosts ESPN's "Highly Questionable" television program, told listeners that he was bothered by South Florida's getting "bleeped" by the MLB and warned that the interview wouldn't be conducted in the his normal congenial tone.
Le Batard not hold back with his tone nor line of questioning and appeared to grow frustrated with the commissioner's answers. The entire lead-up and full interview can be listened to here.
"South Florida is really mad," Le Batard told Manfred at the beginning of the interview, "baseball has been really bad to South Florida for many years, and I don't believe that baseball deserves a single customer in South Florida."
Manfred responded by pointing out that the Marlins have won two World Series titles and that many markets would trade for that. Le Batard essentially ignored that comment before asking whether Manfred was aware of Jeter's plan to trade players and cut payroll, and he demanded a yes or no answer when Manfred started his answer with "it's interesting..." That's when the interview got a bit testy.
"I'm not gonna be deposed like this is some adversary thing. You wanna ask me some questions, I'll answer them the way I want to answer them. If that's not enough, we can move on," Manfred said in a tone that suggested annoyance.
"That's fine, I'll do it that way. But you're coming on here and saying that you weren't aware of Jeter's plan to trade players and slash payroll? We're starting with a lie, Rob, like, that's where we're staring!"
Manfred responded, "I'm not going to sit here and have you call me a liar." He then said that the first payroll plan from the new ownership group arrived at the league office two days ago.
Manfred earlier defended the Stanton trade and said that Marlins fans shouldn't be upset with the decision to move one of the league's top players.
“Look, I think that it’s important for new owners to come in, evaluate the state of their franchise, decide where they think they’re headed long term and kind of write with a clean slate,” Manfred said in November, when rumors of a Stanton deal were heating up. “I think it’s unfair really to criticize a decision if it turns out to be the decision to move a player who has a contract that somebody else negotiated,” he added.