Roger Goodell is pretty firmly hated by the majority of football fans, and deservedly so. Adam Silver is actually well liked within the NBA, but he suffers from the fact he looks like Nosferatus more well-adjusted, yet slightly creepier, brother
Rob Manfred on the other hand seems to get a pass. It might be because he’s still somewhat new to the position, or it could be because his predecessor Bud Selig stuck around so long that anyone else who didn’t need a live in nurse was a welcome change. I think its becoming clear though, the guy’s an asshole. That’s not an attack on him as a person, he might be a nice guy, but in terms of doing his job, he’s a giant piece of lying shit. Which seems to be a quality that is necessary in high ranking office positions for professional sport leagues.
It’s really rare to find someone in the front offices of professional sports that you actually like. Though some might come off as men who actually have a rooted interest in seeing their team win and will do whatever it takes to put a winning team on the field, at heart they’re all a bunch of money grubbing rich bastards who will always put their own monetary values ahead of anything else. The commissioners of these leagues are usually just glorified human catheters who are here solely to continue the steady cash flow into their pockets at the cost of us fans who would give a kidney to see our teams win championships and live and die with every play of every game.
Once Manfred took over he pretty much immediately decided he was going to do things his own way and change the game however he deemed fit. He originally was a lawyer and now he somehow is in charge of baseball. Honestly he doesn’t even strike me as someone who watches the game, just looks at it as a business that us peasants who invest our time, energy and devotion, as well as tons of our own money for things like $12 hot dogs when we go to games, are willing to continue to pay for. Every time I see him being interviewed or talking about the game, its either about what changes to the rules he can make in order to make the game watchable for him while its on in the background of his office while he counts his money, or about the business side of it and how he can make it more profitable so he can spend more time counting his (larger amount of) money. It doesn’t seem like he’s someone who loves the game and therefore it makes it even more annoying when he’s the one who is in charge of its future. It’s like if someone from the steel industry came to manage a small branch of a paper company who didn’t come from a background in the paper industry.
Recently, he’s been more blazen in his ongoing crusade to make the game his own Frankenstein’s monster with an unarguable motive to continue to line his pockets through any means necessary. There’s been 3 main factors recently that make it evident he doesn’t care about the actual game or it’s history, which is something that people cherish with baseball more than any other sport.
The most publicized case of his assholery and lack of compassion for the sport and its players was brought to light by Justin Verlander during All-Star week. With home runs being hit at an all time high and continuing to jump, it is pretty clear something is being done differently to the balls. Manfred knows the casual fan isn’t going to sit and watch a 9 inning pitchers duel of strike outs and grounders. People want to see the ball flying out of the park. It’s the reason so many people tuned in during the late 90’s to watch Sosa and McGwire and their comic book muscles hit the ball further distances than some people walk in a day. It was obvious their strength wasn’t natural, but people didn’t mind, we just wanted to watch the ball fly to inhumane heights, no matter the cost or the truth.
People didn’t care at the time that the athletes were juicing, it wasn’t until it was made more public that people gave a shit. Manfred has figured out how to emulate that thought process without ruining the integrity of the physical competition. The athletes won’t juice, but the equipment can. People won’t be so mad if the competitive playing field is equal in terms of the physicality of the players, regardless of the equipment they use. So what does he do? MLB buys the company that makes the balls, Rawlings, and suddenly they’re flying out of parks at an alarming rate. Instead of acknowledging that a change was made, Manfred acts innocent, saying the increased home runs are “probably” because of the ways the balls are being made, but that nothing was done to them on purpose or malignantly, that no changes were made since MLB took over. In other words, he blatantly lies to the fans. You’re not going to buy a company and see a sudden change in the performance or quality of their product without making some sort of change yourself. That’s exactly what Manfred has done with the balls being used, and he’s going to piss on our boots and tell us its raining and then he’s going to roll out the tarp with an ad on it some company paid millions for so his kids could go to private school.
Which brings us to the most recent ploy for money that is happening under Manfreds watch. Proving once again he uses pages from baseball history books to wipe his ass, it has come out that MLB is probably going the way of the NBA and will be adding advertisements to their jerseys within the next few years. Though it can easily be debatable, baseball uniforms have always been one of the most appreciated aspect of sports, and for most they’re the most appealing to look at. Their intricacies, from the jerseys themselves to the added equipment players wear during games, have always been one of the most enjoyable things for fans to look at, and for a lot, emulate. From little leagues, to high schools, even to 50 year old men playing softball, the look and design of baseball jerseys are important and something we take pride in, and we look to the big leagues to see what equipment we can wear during games.
I hate the Yankees with a passion, but even I can’t argue that their jerseys are one of the greatest of all times in all of sports, with so much history attached. That’s why its bizarre to think that they may soon have a minor overhaul to them that would forever change the way we see them. It may be a small patch on either the sleeve or the chest (though Nike is taking over the jerseys soon and adding their logo to the chest, so I assume it would be on the arm) but it’s glaring enough to some of us that it severely dampens the look entirely. When I see a company logo on the sleeve of a baseball jersey, I tend to think it’s a cheap promotional giveaway from a game. Hell I have a few Indians jerseys that have Sugardale Hot Dog logos on them that I wear often, but I’m an out of shape fan sitting in the stands. To think of Francisco Lindor fielding a grounder with Sugardale front and center on his arm is disturbing, as it would be to think of it on any player.
Which brings me to my final point about Manfred, and the lies that lying liar tells. Lindor wearing a company logo on his arm is an awful thought, especially because what was once on his arm was the greatest logo in baseball. Rob Manfred killed Chief Wahoo. Worse, he then denied it.
In keeping with the theme that owners are assholes, the Indians owner, Paul Dolan, is at the top of the list of shitty owners. This isn’t about him though, or his cost cutting ways or lack of interest in ever actually winning a World Series. This is about Manfred and how he dangled the All Star game in front of Dolan in order to strong arm him into giving into his demands. For years we have heard the complaints that Chief Wahoo is racist and needs to go, while most polls of Native Americans actually said they don’t care, and the guy who was leading the boycotts and protests and charge (no pun intended) against the mascot was using the cause to really embezzle money didn’t seem to matter. The court of twitter opinion got to Manfred, and he made public statements against the use of the mascot that looked damn good on Frankie.
We had the All Star Game for 2019 locked up under Selig, but somehow, after a meeting between Dolan and Manfred, it was decided the Chief was going to be put down for good beginning the same year we host the event. Rumblings were made that a deal had been struck between to two to keep the game in Cleveland this year, as long as Dolan gave in and got rid of the logo on the field. Manfred insists the two had nothing to do with one another, hiding behind the fact that Selig gave us this game, yet he doesn’t seem to deny that he may have made it clear he could take it away from us if we didn’t give in. And of course, knowing the amount of revenue an all star game in Cleveland would bring him, Dolan folded. Hell he still gets to sell the Chief at the stadium, and he’ll make some money off awful block C merchandise, so for someone who doesn’t give a shit about the actual team on the field, why wouldn’t he remove the patch from the jerseys and hats if it wouldn’t effect his bottom line.
Manfred has made his presence known in the MLB, and he’s already left a mark with some of his decisions that will be in place well after he’s gone. With his lack of accountability and petulance to be able to lie at the drop of a Chief Wahoo-less hat, I feel he’s only going to continue to do whatever he wants with no repercussions. He may hide behind his claims that he’s doing what he can to make the game better and more enjoyable, but it’s clear to those of us paying attention he’s really doing whatever he can to continue to inflate the bank accounts of the owners and piss on the history and integrity of Americas Pastime.