It’s not so much that he said something completely unbelievable, because, well, it wasn’t the first time the absurd has come from his mouth.
What’s more galling is that Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred expected the media, baseball fans and anyone with a grasp of reality to believe him that 2022 spring training could still start on time.
Speaking in his first public press availability since locking out the players on Dec. 2, a span of 70 days or 13 days longer than spring training, Manfred wouldn’t say that the scheduled start of spring training — pitchers and catchers were to report on Tuesday — would be delayed.
“The status of spring training is no change right now,” he said stone-faced and noting that there was a bargaining session Saturday.
But he also said it knowing that MLB owners would go into that session with no intention of negotiating to find a solution but only offer minimal concessions that wouldn’t lead to a solution but more stalemate.
So, uh, has the status of spring training changed now?
Perhaps Manfred is a fan of George Costanza’s mantra: “… just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”
But the Twitter mailbag has a more applicable Costanza quote to fit this entire situation: “Don’t insult me, my friend. Remember who you’re talking to. No one’s a bigger idiot than me.”
Even this idiot knows that an agreement won’t be reached in time for pitchers and catchers to report or when positions players report on Feb. 21.
Let’s be clear, I’m not calling, and have never called, Manfred, a puppet, you did. But if we use your characterization, which many might feel is fitting, it’s important to remember that puppets and their actions are entirely dependent on the person or persons pulling the strings to control them.
He tried to portray himself as something more than that in the news conference, lauding his own resume and commitment to the game.
“In the history of baseball, the only person who has made a labor agreement without a dispute, and I did four of ’em, was me. Somehow during those four negotiations players and union representatives figured out a way to trust me enough to make a deal. I’m the same person today as I was in 1998 when I took that labor job.”
How many of us are the same person we were in 1998? I wouldn’t be employed if I was still that person.
Then again, the owners want him to be that same person.
Remember Manfred is employed by the owners with an $11 million annual salary. He has a side in this situation. And he made that point clear in that news conference, trying to shift the blame to players not wanting to bargain — “phones work both ways” — while trying to paint team ownership as a money-losing, charitable endeavor to provide baseball to fans.
“We actually hired an investment banker, a really good one, actually, to look at that very issue,” Manfred said. “If you look at a purchase price of franchises, the cash that’s put in during the period of ownership, and then what they sold for, historically, the return on those investments is below what you get in the stock market, which looks like the end of the stock market was a lot more risky.”
His news conference appearance probably wasn’t ideal for owners in terms of media and public perception, but at this point why would they care? They’ve generated advantages for them in the last CBA negotiations and the players will never get some of those core economic issues to change.
At this point, he’ll probably get a raise.
If Manfred and the owners truly cared about the history of minor league baseball and the community spirit that those franchises can provide to smaller cities and towns, they would’ve found a way to keep the names of the respective leagues. The Pacific Coast League was good enough for Joe DiMaggio but not for a lawyer that runs baseball.
Instead, Manfred and MLB took over minor-league baseball with all the tact of a mafia don or an ’80s corporate takeover.
But this sort of connection between fans and minor-league teams doesn’t register in the high rises of Manhattan.
While I think bulldogs are hilarious in their contempt for movement and Bermese Mountain Dogs are just cuddly behaviors, my answer will always be Labrador retrievers. I had a yellow lab named Yellow Dog. My parents had a chocolate lab named Doolittle. And they currently have a black lab named Mika. I was seriously considering stealing one of the Seattle Police Department’s bomb-sniffing dogs — a yellow lab named Sam. I’m all for a lab being a pet. But can we get an emotional support lab in the press box?