The commissioner of baseball is bad for the game


Photo Courtesy of: NBC Sports

The time has come and gone for Rob Manfred to be the MLB commissioner. For the good of the game, the teams need to get together and vote this man out of the league before he ruins the sport forever.

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

Rob Manfred was elected as the tenth commissioner of Major League Baseball on August 14, 2014. Manfred blew all other competitors for the role out of the water, winning 100% of the votes (30 votes out of 30 MLB teams.) Six years later, however, it seems as though the unanimous choice for the job was the wrong choice. Manfred has been regarded as the worst commissioner in all modern sports and, in my opinion, will go down as the worst commissioner in MLB history. 

Ever since that day in 2014, MLB has been on a downhill slope. They are losing popularity in the United States, ticket sales are down and even the World Series viewership has seen a significant drop. The MLB is struggling to stay above the current with a commissioner who has no clue what he is doing. Manfred has also been the target of many hate comments for his actions in the past year.

On January 13, 2020, Manfred announced the results of the investigation which involved the Houston Astros cheating allegations. The report confirmed that the Astros used an illegal video camera system to steal signs from opposing teams in the 2017 regular season and postseason, as well as parts of the 2018 regular season. Although the report stated that there were no rule violations in 2019 by the Houston Astros, Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki, who battled the Astros in the 2019 World Series thought otherwise. In an interview with CNBC,  Suzuki said there was “no question” the Astros cheated during the 2019 World Series. This was the beginning of Manfred’s shenanigans as MLB commissioner. There were very few fallouts/firings from the report by the MLB; only four people were fired as a result of the Astros blatantly stealing signs for their advantage in multiple seasons. Astros manager A. J. Hinch was fired from his job on January 13th after holding the position from 2015-2019. The second firing was former Astros player Carlos Beltran. Beltran had taken over the job as the manager of the New York Mets on November 4, 2019, but Beltran met his demise on January 17, 2020. He was fired before he even got to manage his first game. Former Astros bench coach Alex Cora lost his job with the Boston Red Sox and Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow was suspended for one year without pay. Luhnow was also fired from the Astros a few days later.

The questions of how they got the signs must be answered first. The signs were recorded using a video camera from centerfield and were being played to a monitor in the Astros locker room. The signs were then relayed to the player by a staff member hitting a trash can for a certain type of pitch, or a buzzer worn by the players who would be buzzed when a certain pitch was coming. Now, on the repercussions, or lack thereof. Other than one player, Beltran, zero players had any repercussions what-so-ever. ZERO. These players were stealing signs for three years. These signs helped the Astros win one World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 and be one win away from another title against the Washington Nationals in 2019, yet they get zero punishment. This lack of punishment falls solely on Manfred’s shoulders. These people were cheating for three straight years and received no punishment. They get to keep the World Series title, the fame, the money, the glory, all of it. All they get from the MLB is a tiny slap on the wrist. It’s like the MLB is saying, “It’s ok Houston, just don’t let it happen again.” Well, it’s not ok- and the MLB should be 100% sure it doesn’t happen again.

This was only the beginning of Manfred’s mishaps as commissioner. On July 28, 2020, the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers squared off for the first time since the 2017 World Series in which the Astros beat the Dodgers due to their cheating shenanigans. Things got ugly quick. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly decided it was time to enact some revenge on the Astros. When Astros third baseman Alex Bregman stepped to the plate, Kelly was struggling. He was having a hard time locating pitches and got down in the count 3-0 pretty quick. Kelly then decided that trying to fight the count was not a good move and proceeded to throw his next pitch behind the head of Bregman. He didn’t hit him, just threw it behind him. 

The next batter to the plate was Astros shortstop Carlos Correa. The first pitch of the at-bat was straight at the head of Correa. He managed to duck out of the way and not get hit by the ball but the intent was still there. The at-bat ended when Kelly was able to strikeout Correa to end the inning. As Kelly walked off the field, he made a variety of sad faces to mock Correa and told Correa to “shut the **** up.” Now, I will never condone using that word as it is extremely mean and offensive, but it is not like the Astros don’t deserve it, they 100% had it coming. The Los Angeles Dodgers were robbed of a World Series title because the Astros cheated their way to beat them, so it’s easy to see why the Dodgers would be upset. As for Kelly head hunting, I don’t condone that either. The Astros should have been more severely punished for their actions, but that doesn’t mean opposing pitchers can head hunt all season. There are better ways to handle things than that.

Here is where Manfred comes into play. On July 29, the MLB came out with a report saying that Kelly would be suspended for the eight games. Kelly appealed the suspension and was able to bring the MLB down to only a five game suspension, but that doesn’t change much. The Houston Astros cheated the entire league of baseball for three straight years, and out of their entire roster of players one player was fired/suspended from his job. The average MLB roster consists of 26 players and of the Astros team one player received punishment. That is 0.03% of all Astros players. Yet Kelly, who threw at two peoples head, and told someone to “shut the **** up” is suspended for five games. The Astros and Dodgers have had the same amount of people face punishment, although one team’s actions lasted three years, while the other’s lasted one inning. Manfred cannot be serious at this point. How can you suspend Kelly for eight games, yet only one Astros player faces punishment for an act that went on for three seasons of play?

The third and most blasphemous thing Manfred has ever done as a commissioner came out on August 27, 2020, only two weeks ago. Around the United States there have been countless protests due to racial injustice. These protests have also spread to sports, and many popular sports figures and even whole teams have refused to play certain games as a sign that they want change in America. 

When New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was asked by someone in the Mets organization about a conversation he had with Manfred, Van Wagenen said, “You know it’d be really really great if you just had them all take the field, and then they leave the field and then they come back and play at 8:10.”

Van Wagenen was then asked who said that. He gave a simple response: 

“Rob [Manfred].” 

I believe wholeheartedly that this statement came directly out of Manfred’s mouth. If this is the case Robert D. Manfred Jr. is treating this sport like a joke. There are other protests, that are 100% real, going on across the country that Manfred treats like a joke. Manfred should have been fired on the spot for this statement. This is one of the most rude and offensive things that I have ever heard from someone with as much power as Manfred has.

On August 28, Van Wagenen issued an apology to Manfred for releasing these things that Manfred obviously said. In the statement, Van Wagenen said that the idea to leave the field and play the game an hour later came from Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, not Manfred himself.

Give me a break. Manfred forced Van Wagenen to come out with this statement and pin the blame on someone else. It is clear as day; Manfred was the one that said these things and is just trying to get out of any punishments or consequences he would have to face.

Manfred needs to be voted out of the commissioner role as soon as possible. He is terrible for the game and brand of baseball. Plain and simple. He has given the league a bad reputation and utterly embarrassed the sport as a whole. It is painfully obvious that he does not know what he is doing as commissioner and is not even remotely fit to hold a role of that power. Manfred needs to go before the sport falls too far and suffers so much pain that baseball may never return to the glory it once had.