Rob Manfred, Cleat in Mouth, Continues Run of Bad Baseball Commissioners
Why is it so hard to get a good baseball commissioner? Will someone please tell me.
Bowie Kuhn was all right, I suppose, if "all right" were to suffice. But it doesn't. If asked for a one-word descriptor for the commish who served from 1969 through 1984, the best thing I could say about Kuhn is that he was uninspired. And he's in a Hall of Famer, if you can believe that.
Next up for Major League Baseball, from 1984 - 1989, was Peter Ueberroth, whose main contribution to the game was collusion.
Then, fortunately for all concerned (all of earth, essentially), baseball was graced with the presence of Bart Giamatti (1989), who loved baseball. And showed it every single day until his death five months into the job, September 1, 1989.
Bart's lieutenant, Fay Vincent (1989 - 1992) stepped in and continued as his predecessor had, with respect for owners, players and fans, doing his level best to lead the game properly. For three years, before being unceremoniously dumped primarily because of his stance on realignment. But in reality, the owners just wanted an end to the independent commissioner.
Which led us to Bud Selig (1992-2015). You'll forgive me if I skip the particulars this one time. Because it's been done to death. And because I'm in no mood.
Next, who do we have and have had since 2015 but Rob Manfred. Rob Manfred, ladies and gentlemen, who is headed for Ueberroth-like ignominy and likely a court-enforced settlement that will put the 2006 collusion eight-figure penalty to shame. And shame just plain generally.
If you can stomach more material in which Manfred is an unfortunate character, I've written about him here, here, here, here and here recently, which is way way way way way more than I'd care to even type the letters m-a-n-f-r-e-d.
In case you missed the news, after a long public negotiation with the Major League Baseball Players Association ended in agreement June 23, and the players reluctantly accepting a 60-game season, Manfred told radio talk show host Dan Patrick yesterday that "we weren’t going to play more than 60 games no matter how the negotiations with the players went." Cue the Michael Kinsley definition of the word "gaffe," please.
As I said above, this is going to cost the league some bucks. How does $10 million per owner ($300 mil total) grab you?
Unsatisfied with the Patrick appearance and forgetting the sage advice that when you're in a hole, stop digging, Manfred grabbed a shovel. Here's what he offered USA Today as an explanation today: “My point was that no matter what happened with the union, the way things unfolded with the second spike...we would have ended up with only time for 60 games, anyway. As time went on, it became clearer and clearer that the course of the virus was going to dictate how many games we could play.’’
Oh, well in that case.
First of all, the league's decision to stick to a 60-game max schedule was decided weeks, if not months ago. Manfred admitted as much Wednesday. And who is he to say if and when a bloody thing about a "second spike" has or will occurred? Moreover, whether he realizes it or not, Manfred is actually copping to a plan to cancel the season before a ball is thrown with the virus-was-going-to-dictate" line.
So you might as well prepare for an 18-month break from baseball right now, people. Because there's an app for that. And it's sitting on Manfred's desk right now.
And all I want for a Christmas is a good baseball commissioner.
Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.