To say Major League Baseball is in a state of unrest would be an understatement.
Players and fans alike have not been shy in voicing their displeasure with how Commissioner Rob Manfred handled th sign stealing scandal.
After doling out a weak punishment to the Houston Astros, Manfred doubled down in defense of his decision with ESPN’s Karl Ravech. But his most controversial statement came when asked about vacating the 2017 World Series for the Houston Astros.
“The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act,” he said.
Dodgers outfielder Justin Turner, who lost out on that “piece of metal,” in 2017 thanks (at least in part) to the Astros illegal practices, added his voice to the angry mob.
“I don’t know if the commissioner has ever won anything in his life,” Turner told reporters Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Maybe he hasn’t. But the reason every guy’s in this room, the reason every guy is working out all offseason, and showing up to camp early and putting in all the time and effort is specifically for that trophy.”
Justin Turner’s Rob Manfred rant is the best one yet. pic.twitter.com/6ugSjgI6Xj
— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) February 18, 2020
Turner went on to point out the trophy is called the “Commissioner’s Trophy.”
Turner is not the only player who has been critical of Manfred. Players around the league have taken to Twitter and local news outlets to voice their displeasure.
“Well, there’s a couple of pieces of metal, right? You get a ring, too. That’s a big piece of metal,” he said. “I think everybody that plays the game knows it’s not just a ‘piece of metal.’ I don’t know if he said that to make a funny or what, but it’s obviously representative of something much bigger than that.”
— Redskins Gold Pants (@SkinsGoldPants) February 18, 2020
In short, Manfred administered none.
Arguing it would be too difficult to determine specific levels of involvement and responsibility by individuals, he avoided the matter. He went on to say he believes the shame of their involvement is a punishment the will “live with for the rest of their lives.”
No matter how excruciating the media may make the season off the field however, Manfred made sure to protect the Astros on it. With fear of retaliation in the form of teams throwing at players, Manfred sent a memo to teams warning of increased punishments.
Rob Manfred on ESPN just said he will send a memorandum to all teams discouraging retaliation against the Astros. He cited that throwing at Astros hitters is inappropriate, and increased punishments will be in play.
As opposed to ZERO punishment for the players who cheated.
— Phil Mackey (@PhilMackey) February 16, 2020
“It is simply not appropriate to express whatever frustration you may have growing out of the Astros situation by putting someone physically at risk by throwing at them,” Manfred said. “It’s just not acceptable.”
As understandable as the measure is and with Manfred’s core point being sound, the comment still ruffled some feathers. To many the ruling seems unjust; with the cheaters getting off scot free while receiving undeserved protection.
None of this is to say the risk beaning players poses are equal to what the reward. The safety of the human beings playing the sport is not worth that type of retaliation; however it still leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths.
As controversial as the interview seemed to go, Manfred did finally show some awareness of the fiasco around him. When asked about how Astros “official,” apology as a team on Thursday, he called it what it was.
“It was not successful,” the Commissioner said.
The Astros open their season on March 26 at home against the Los Angeles Angels. A week later they will head to LA to play the Angles again, but expect plenty of Dodger fans to infiltrate Angel Stadium of Anaheim and greet the Astros