Imagine being charged with negotiating the relaunch of a multibillion-dollar industry, which employs thousands of workers, in the middle of a pandemic. Things have been very contentious in recent weeks between you and the union representing your most prominent group of employees. Finally, though, you have a productive meeting with the labor side’s leader, and while reports that you’ve struck a deal are premature, things are finally looking good.
What’s your next move?
If you said, “get on the phone with Marco Rubio,” then thank you, Rob Manfred, for being a loyal reader, because there is nobody else on this planet who would give that response.
“Just spoke with @MLB Commissioner,” Rubio tweeted on Wednesday. “America really needs some unifying common experiences right now, not to distract us from our challenges, but to remind us of the things we have in common. Baseball can help fill that void & I am cautiously optimistic we will #playball very soon.”
The senator from Florida is correct, for once, that America needs some unifying common experiences right now. But sitting in front of our televisions watching baseball, instead of sitting in front of our televisions watching Netflix, isn’t as good of an idea for a unifying common experience as, oh, let’s see, wearing a mask when you go out in public.
As for a reminder of things we have in common, Americans can largely agree that Marco Rubio is a huge doofus who, in his most prominent moment on the public stage, got clowned by Donald Trump, and then wound up spending the following years licking his boots.
It’s not that Manfred has no business talking to politicians right now. There are some important ones the commissioner of baseball ought to be in touch with. But those would be governors and mayors, who might be able to help Major League Baseball make informed decisions about how best to safely have a 2020 baseball season (assuming such a thing is possible, which, well, there’s reason to be skeptical).
Marco Rubio is neither a governor, a mayor, nor an expert in public health. His committee assignments in the Senate are Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Aging, and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. None of those would give pretext to a Manfred-Rubio chat about the state of negotiations with the MLBPA.
“At my request, (MLBPA Executive Director) Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix,” Manfred said in a statement on Wednesday. “We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents. I summarized that framework numerous times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary today. Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the Clubs to move forward and I trust Tony is doing the same.”
Meanwhile, there were 27,975 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States on Tuesday, the highest tally in 10 days in a country that hasn’t gone under 10,000 new cases in a day since March 22.
The unifying common experience is that we live in a nation run by dullards who prioritize business over people’s lives, and who believe that reminding us of the things we have in common can salve a still-rising death toll of 119,000 in a country where as many as 43.2 million people are unemployed.
It will be fun if there’s some live baseball to watch on TV this summer, but if it happens, it will be as useful to America as a phone call between Rob Manfred and Marco Rubio.