MLB commissioner Rob Manfred needs to be sent packing

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 10: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the 2019 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings on December 10, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 10: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the 2019 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings on December 10, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Major League Baseball has major public relations and credibility issues. Because of that, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred needs to be sent packing.

In theory, this should be a great time to be a fan of Major League Baseball. There has been unprecedented peace between MLB and the Player’s Union, with the two sides working together since the disastrous strike in 1994. There is every probability that we are seeing one of the all time greats in the history of the game in Mike Trout. Players like Shohei Ohtani have fundamentally changed the game, bringing back the two way player. Six different teams have won the World Series in the past six years. This should be a wonderful time for the game.

Instead, there are dark clouds on the horizon. As more attention has been placed on the plight of minor league players, and their substandard pay, MLB unveiled a plan to eliminate 42 teams. This way, profits can remain high, while minor leaguers get that pay increase they desire. Relations with the MLBPA have soured due to whispers of collusion during the previous two offseasons. Add in the ongoing saga, and continued holdup, of the Mookie Betts trade, and it is easy to see why the Union would once again have a major distrust of the league.

Even purchasing a team has become a possible thorn in the league’s side. The pending sale of the Mets is no longer happening, due to a squabble between the Wilpon’s and minority owner Steve Cohen. While it is hard to know who is at fault, or to what degree, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is siding with the Wilpon’s, and seems to be willing to blackball Cohen from ever purchasing another team.

That does not even touch the biggest issue facing MLB. At a time when the league is embracing legalized gambling (and shunning Pete Rose, but that’s a different topic), they face cheating accusations. The Houston Astros have been punished for their sign stealing scandal, while the Red Sox await their punishment. While A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora, Carlos Beltran, and Jeff Luhnow all lost their jobs, the credibility of the league is at stake.

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Whether or not it is fair, these issues all come back to Rob Manfred. He certainly can be blamed for picking that unnecessary fight with the minor leagues, and several of the issues between the owners and the Union. Additionally, his statement that Astros owner Jim Crane was not in any way culpable in the AstroGate cheating scandal was basically an employee clearing his boss of any wrongdoing.

Then there are issues somewhat outside of his control. The Red Sox attempting to change the terms of their blockbuster trade with the Dodgers and Twins because they were somehow unaware that Brusdar Graterol was built like a midwest fireplug and was injured last year. The cheating scandal, leaving the integrity of the game in question. Those are not necessarily his fault.

But in the end, it all comes back to the person in charge. The MLBPA does not trust Manfred. The fans do not trust Manfred. Although the owners voted unanimously to extend his contract through 2024, one has to wonder if every owner still has confidence that he is the right person for the job.

The big test will take place in the next two years. Manfred needs to regain the trust of the MLBPA, making Tony Clark and company feel that the owners are negotiating in good faith. He needs to find a way to put the cheating scandal behind MLB, and focus on the present and future of the game. He needs to end the public relations nightmare that has been the unnecessary battle to eliminate 42 minor league teams. And he needs to find a way to improve the credibility of the game while cozying up to Las Vegas.

Obviously, this is a tall order for Manfred. These are all battles that he cannot afford to lose. The future of the game will be shaped by all of these issues, and the decisions made. It will take a degree of leadership and decisiveness that, frankly, Manfred has yet to display.

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There are dark clouds hovering over Major League Baseball. In order for some light to break through, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred needs to go.