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Rob Manfred: Baseball’s Biggest Enemy

During a year in society where no one knows who should take the blame, one thing is clear. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is baseball’s biggest enemy in 2020.

The ‘ Yankees Letter ‘

Rob Manfred: Baseball's Worst Enemy
Photo Courtesy of CBS Sports

The latest piece of evidence against the commissioner came on Saturday morning. A U.S. District Court judge ordered a 2017 letter between Manfred and New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman to be unsealed.

Back in January, a customer of the online betting site DraftKings brought a lawsuit against the Houston Astros. Grievances included the artificially inflated stats of Astros players as a direct result of the team’s 2017 sign-stealing scandal. After Manfred’s investigation, litigants soon grew to include the Boston Red Sox and their former manager Alex Cora.

Manfred now faces criticism in his handling of a case involving the New York Yankees. Earlier this year the commissioner fined New York for previous 2015 and 2016 cases of sign-stealing. It is thought this punishment came before penalties were imposed on the Astros and Red Sox. Still, no one in baseball knew this letter existed until the judge’s ruling.

So while it’s unclear what this letter to the Yankees GM says, the commissioner seems to be in a dangerous position. If Manfred was trying to keep the Yankees’ sign-stealing offenses quiet, the Astros might have a word to say about the double standard he’s created. 

2020 Season Negotiations

Rob Manfred: Baseball's Worst Enemy?
Courtesy of Spring Training Online

These developments come on the heels of the most disappointing story to come out of baseball in the last three months. The MLB Players Association has officially withdrawn from negotiations on the upcoming season, saying in a press release from Tony Clark, the Players Association executive director, “It unfortunately appears that further dialogue with the league would be futile. It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.” 

That means the slew of season proposals between owners and players over the past month have come to an end. Several players voiced frustration about the similarity of MLB owners’ proposals during this time. Too often, protests regarded salary compensations.

Commissioner Manfred has the right to implement a shortened season if no agreement can be reached. To this point, most baseball writers believe a 48 or 50 game season will be the most likely. Some baseball is better than no baseball, but to fans and players this would still feel like a loss.

Manfred might not be the reason for the disconnect between the players and owners. But he will be the reason for the shortened season everyone expects.  To a baseball-hungry public, this and the infamous ‘Yankees letter’ is enough to make Rob Manfred the biggest villain in Major League Baseball right now.

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