Nobody seems very happy with Rob Manfred right now, but at the end of the day he’s just a symptom of MLB ownerships terminal sickness.
About a week ago, my counterpart here at House of Houston wrote an article about Rob Manfred needing to be terminated as commissioner of MLB. While I agree with most of what he said about Manfred and his performance, I don’t think it will achieve the intended results. The real problem dates back to Bud Selig and it may just be too late to save baseball from itself.
First of all Manfred’s dealings with the sign stealing scandal was never going to be equitable. If players couldnt be outed and suspended, then what was the point really? I know everyone is up in arms about the mystery letter pertaining to the Yankees, but what would it change? Using immediate replay is not all that different from advance scouting, and is not the same as real time pitch tipping from the dugout. Furthermore no players were penalized on any teams, and the MLBPA was never going to allow them to be. The commissioner did not name individuals in any of his other reports, no stats or records were vacated, so like the rest of MLB let’s just put our heads in the sand and move on. No commissioner was going to do much about the situation.
The inability to get a real season started, and to work the the Players Association is a direct result of years of lack of leadership by the commissioners office. When Bud Selig made himself baseball’s Ceaser he effectively created a permanent conflict of interest in MLB’s leadership structure. Rob Manfred is just the latest fruit borne from that poisonous tree.
Selig having been an owner removed any pretense of impartiality from the office. The MLBPA was no longer negotiating with just the owners, theybalsonhad to fight the commissioner. Think about Roger Goodell and Adam Stern for a moment. Could you see either allowing some of the moves MLB owners have tried to implement for the upcoming season? Could you see an NBA team manipulating service time to keep players under contract an extra year? Could you see Selig or Manfred bucking one of the leagues most influential owners and suspending his MVP? Could you see that same owner accepting it for the good of the league? Of course not.
The last true commissioner was Fay Vincent. Vincent tried to partner with both sides and worked to be fair. He stood tall with a Ruxinesque scream of “COLLUSION!!!!” when the owners illegally tried to hold down salaries. He brokered a labor deal between the two sides, and always kept the integrity of the game in his sights. Naturally he was fired.
Selig came in and drove down the players share of revenue, kept owners from “overspending” on free agent deals, and watched the leagues audience dwindle after a strike, a cancelled world series, and a laundry list of other bad decisions. He was clearly there with one mission….please the owners.
Rob Manfred is really just keeping with league policy now that he’s in the big chair. Fight the union, maximize the owners profits and take the fans for granted. If Manfred stepped down today the owners would find their next rubber stamp to fill the role. Baseball is dieing because the ownership wants it that way.