I know that commissioners of every sport stopped being stewards of their sport and merely stooges for the owners long ago. Probably about the time MLB fired Fay Vincent to install one of its own, Bud Selig, and his dinosaur hands, windsock morality, and peabrain.
Rob Manfred is no different, just perhaps the most naked (though Gary Bettman and Roger Goodell will not take defeat in this category lying down in their ambitions). Manfred, since taking office, hasn’t really shown much of anything other than contempt for the game he supposedly governs. He has done it by implementing or discussing various rules changes that only display his ignorance of what the game’s actual problems are, the block-handed and pigheaded negotiations with players over last season, and the bloodless coup of the minor leagues, just for starters.
But of course, any commissioner’s mood can be changed if you wave enough cash in front of them. That was the game Manfred gave away, again, yesterday in an interview with Sportico Live.
Whatever business acumen Manfred claims to have would be eliminated by the idea that another sport’s commissioner had to explain to him that shitting on the game he’s in charge of is a bad idea. Manfred’s main pursuit, at least when it comes to the game on the field, has been pace of play and the lengths of games, without ever getting to the heart of what makes baseball games long and empty now. The TV breaks, especially during the postseason, have a hand in it. But it’s the three-true-outcome heavy style that takes most of the blame. Strikeouts take time. Walks take time. And they don’t provide action.
But we’ve been down that road before. The fact that Manfred had to have it explained to him that the intervals in baseball make it perfect for gambling show a pretty stunning lack of vision. Anyone could have figured that out. And now you wonder if Manfred isn’t going to back off all of his quest simply because MLB can welcome the gambling dollars by the truckful.
This almost certainly means we won’t see a shortening of between-innings breaks now. A pitch-clock is probably going to be put to the side as well. After all, if there’s one thing Manfred can do, after a great amount of time and suggestion, is figure out which way the wind is blowing for the owners to make more money.