Manfred tries the old rope-a-dope but he’s duping no one

Rob Manfred - The Great Deceiver (

Rob Manfred, at the behest of team owners, has been disparaging the game of baseball with a shell-game ploy that is fooling no one. 

Rob Manfred is getting bad advice, or he is on the road to fulfilling a legacy as Commission as a master manipulator and con artist.

Rob Manfred thinks we'll play? - Think again.
Does Rob Manfred think we’ll play? – Think again.

Manfred spews forth proposal after proposal, each under the guise of “new” when upon further review, it’s a street-corner version of Three-Card Monte.

The tactic has been widely explored in these columns for some time now. Today, the New York Daily News picked up on the same theme as well.

Delay, delay, delay. Throw a Rome apple instead of a Delicious apple out there to the players, wait a few days knowing full well the MLBPA will reject the offer, and then try it again with a Cortland apple even though the offer is still a freakin’ apple.

Manfred is so bold he doesn’t even attempt to come up with talking points anymore to support each proposal.

He doesn’t care because the name of his game is to start the regular-season as late as possible and to end it as soon as possible (September 27) with an abbreviated schedule to make way for money-making playoffs and television money.

Manfred submits his employers will lose $640,000 for each game played in the home ballpark without fans in the stands.

Although the MLBPA has disputed the claim, they have no recourse as Major League Baseball is still protected an antiquated exemption from federal antitrust laws that otherwise would require full financial disclosure by each team.

Manfred: An Ingenious But Ultimately A Faulty Strategy

Manfred will juice the playoffs by adding six teams to the mix for a total of sixteen instead of the usual ten. More teams, more games, more network exposure, more money in the owner’s pockets.

On one level, the strategy employed by Manfred is ingenious. But on another, it is severely disingenuous to the players, fans, and baseball itself as it makes a mockery of the negotiations process. In truth, MLB is not negotiating in good faith.

Blake Snell - A Rebel WITH A Cause
Blake Snell – A Rebel WITH A Cause

It is likely that when the clock ticks down to the number of days and games team owners have in mind (50 is a dependable target), Manfred will employ the “Nuclear Option” he holds over the players, declaring start and end dates for the regular-season.

Players will then have the option of participating with a reduced pro-rated salary formula or staying home, as Blake Snell has threatened to do if he is not paid his full salary for 2020.

Manfred: What If The Postseason Strategy Backfires

Can you imagine the fury that would erupt if you wake up on September 12, with two weeks remaining in the regular 50-game season, and you check the standings to find:

  • The heavily favored New York Yankees are limping home after losing five of their six games to the Baltimore Orioles and 4-6 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Teams, which last year in a standard 19-game schedule against each team, the Yankees went 17-2 and 12-7 against respectively.
  • The heavily favored and fully stocked Los Angeles Dodgers have suffered a similar fate against the Colorado Rockies (4-6) and San Diego Padres (1-5), teams they dominated last year to the tune of 15-4 and 13-6 respectively.

And further, when the dust settles, neither the Yankees nor Dodgers, even though both teams rallied in the final two weeks, have qualified for the playoffs, leaving MLB high and dry with lesser teams and disastrous television ratings.

Baseball fans have come to know that anything can happen in a short series, or in this case a short season. Though long and arduous for everyone, the 162-game regular season almost always ensures the cream will rise to the top.

Manfred Conveniently Ignoring The Bigger Issue

Manfred’s ongoing list of proposals centers exclusively on the number of games and the pro-rated portion of player’s salaries to be paid this season.

Still to be approved by the MLBPA
Still to be approved by the MLBPA

But the real elephant in the room is the matter of players’ safety and the guidelines with the now infamous 67-page document that outlines that provides the protocol of behavior when play resumes.

Players have objections ranging from the lower rung of the ladder, such as the no shower until you get back to the hotel or home rule to the top of the ladder and the ambiguous and frail rules about how often players and other personnel will be tested.

Presently, Manfred says there will be testing three times a week. It is questionable if this is enough due to the interval between testing and games played.

A scenario, for instance, is likely to occur in which a player tests negative on Friday, contacts the virus that night during a game, but is not scheduled for testing until the following Monday, opening up the chances that he has unwittingly exposed hundreds of teammates, family members, reporters, and on and on.

All of which means that Manfred’s imposed schedule, when it comes about, leaves open the mightier question of the MLBPA and MLB conquering (and agreeing to) safety provisions acceptable to the players.

Which, in turn, leaves the players in the unenviable position as the bad guys – for they are now the ones denying fans of their baseball.

If No One Wins, Then Everyone Loses

Some say that Major League Ballplayers are overpaid, greedy, pampered, egotistical, spoiled brats. And there is an argument to make that; indeed, they are.

But they are not Rob Manfred, who at the behest of his employer, connives, cajoles, and deceives to achieve his goals.

The system is rigged in favor of team owners. Thus, there should be no wonder with the way these “negotiations” have transpired.

All we can hope for is that the game of baseball itself will save baseball – despite the men who run and rule our National Pastime.

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.