I could fill a book with complaints about Manfred. But since neither you nor I have the time for such a thing, here are four reasons I think the commissioner is doing an awful job.
“Piece of metal”
Most Yankee fans bash Manfred for how he handled the Astros’ cheating scandal. That’s definitely fair, not punishing the players at all was wrong. Levying a harsh suspension to Joe Kelly for throwing at the Alex Bregman wasn’t right either. But the worst thing Manfred did in regards to the Astros was call the World Series trophy a “piece of metal.” It’s unbelievably embarrassing for the man in charge of baseball to downplay the trophy awarded for reaching the pinnacle of the sport. The most ironic part is that it’s literally called the commissioner’s trophy.
“Calling the World Series trophy a piece of metal,…..the only thing devaluing that trophy is that it says commissioner on it,” Justin Turner to me today about the MLB Astros cheating crisis and Ron Manfred’s explanation. #Dodgerspic.twitter.com/Sq3XHWE8W6
Manfred also did a horrible job negotiating with the Players’ Association prior to the 2020 season. There was a long period of time where I really didn’t think baseball was going to be played this year. The fact that the NBA and NHL already had plans in place to return during the pandemic while Manfred was saying he “wasn’t confident” baseball would happen in 2020 was an absolute joke.
BREAKING: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred tells @Espngreeny that he’s “not confident” there will be a 2020 baseball season. “Unfortunately," Manfred said, "I can’t tell you that I’m a 100% certain that’s gonna happen.”
MLB had a huge opportunity to be the first American major sport to come back during the pandemic. Manfred & the MLBPA squandered that chance, and put the future of baseball at risk in the process.
Attempt to grow the game
Another huge problem I have with Manfred is his approach in trying to grow baseball’s popularity. The guy acts like pace of play is this massive problem. I’m all for making the game run more smoothly. Limiting teams to six mound visits a game was a smart change in my opinion. But rules such as a runner on second in extras or seven-inning doubleheaders will do nothing but anger diehard baseball fans. Will people who don’t watch baseball because the games are three hours long start watching if they’re reduced to two hours forty-five minutes? No, so stop acting like that’s the issue. The real issue is how the game is marketed.
MLB blacking out games is a huge problem. How do they expect to grow the popularity of baseball when they don’t even let fans watch? In my opinion, implementing a broadcast similar to NFL RedZone could do wonders for MLB.
MLB really needs a "Redzone" type feature. Anyone who isn't a diehard might not be interested in watching a full nine innings, but if they jump around every game in the league showing big moments, stars' at-bats, etc., I think a lot of people could get into that
Apparently MLB has tried a few variations of this in the past. I had no idea though because they’re horrific at marketing, so even a diehard fan like myself never heard of it until people responded to my tweet. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Baseball doesn’t have a gameplay problem. It has a marketing problem.
Neutral site World Series?
I didn’t mind the playoff bubble for 2020. With the pandemic, it made sense. Limiting travel to reduce the potential for a virus outbreak seemed like a no-brainer. However, Manfred recently said neutral-site World Series “isn’t completely off the table” moving forward. Permanently shifting the World Series to a neutral site would be an insanely stupid idea. I get that the Super Bowl is always at a neutral site, but that’s a one-game championship. The World Series is a best-of-seven. Hopefully, we reach the point where it’s safe to have capacity crowds at sporting events soon. Why on Earth would you not want those fanatical crowds at World Series games?
You can’t replace that kind of passion at a neutral site. You just can’t.
I’m sure Rob Manfred is a nice guy. In fact, I’ve heard from people who have met him personally that he is. But I’m far from convinced that he even likes baseball. He attempts to appeal to the casual fan with rule changes that do nothing but bother the diehard fan. Every PR move he makes is a nightmare. To top it all off, he’s consistently blown every opportunity to grow the sport’s popularity. So Rob, if you decide you’d like to stop ruining our beautiful game, give me a call. I’d be happy to help.