While the Yankees are jumping off to a sizzling start, Commissioner Rob Manfred threatened to shut the season down. Did he forget who he works for?
The Yankees are delivering on their team-based commitment to adhere to MLB’s Safety Guidelines religiously. Other teams, maybe not so much. But no amount of investigation can ever prove who the bogeymen are that prompts Rob Manfred to punish all teams for the sins of a few.
Spurred perhaps by the 20 (depends on who you believe) Miami Marlins who have tested positive forcing the postponement of all their games until God knows when and, together with the Phillies and Cardinals also forcing delays and schedule juggling, ESPN is reporting that:
“Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark on Friday that if the sport doesn’t do a better job of managing the coronavirus, it could shut down for the season.”
This is not good news for the Yankees who are off to a 5-1 jumpstart, just as they said they would following an offseason filled with anger and frustration as the Cheating Astros story spewed out. The Yankees recalled they were one strike away from the World Series, if not for the banging they heard on a garbage pail.
Yankees: Not To Worry, Manfred Fires Silver Bullets
The Yankees, as well as the Padres (6-2), Twins (5-2), and Cubs (5-2), who are also off to a fast start, needn’t worry, though.
Manfred’s blanket shutdown of the season will never fly, and there is cause to wonder if he is letting it all get to him a bit. Major league team owners will never vote to support Manfred should he try to execute an order to discontinue the season.
A few weeks ago, maybe. But not now when owners are finally seeing money coming in. This is not greed on the part of team owners – they need this revenue – and so do the TV networks.
Newsday, for example, reports that the rain-shorted Yankees-Nationals Opening Day game averaged 4 million viewers nationally on ESPN, the largest audience for an opening night game in ESPN history and most extensive for a regular-season game on any network since 2011.
Yankees YES ratings are following a similar pattern as fans of baseball are responding to the efforts to make the season happen.
Strong resistance is likely to come from teams who are “behaving themselves,” but also from their owners and networks like ESPN who have exhausted their vault of rerunning “exciting” ballgames from the past instead of live baseball.
To put it another way, Rob Manfred is the kindergarten teacher who can’t control the behavior of Johhny – so she tells her class – recess is canceled. It’ll never fly.
The Yankees Keep Trying To Block Out The Noise
Meanwhile, the Yankees continue to win but not without their share of problems. Gary Sanchez now has ten strikeouts in fifteen official at-bats and is still looking for his first hit of the season. If Aaron Boone isn’t worried by now – he should be.
In a game of musical chair s in the Yankees bullpen, Aroldis Chapman is back with the team but still needing to play catch-up before he’s ready to double-team with Zack Britton as the team’s closer. In return, it’s looking like Tommy Kahnle may require Tommy John surgery that will end his season.
Brett Gardner, Luke Voit, Aaron Hicks, and Miguel Andujar are all struggling with batting averages of .200 or lower.
On the flip side, DJ LeMahieu is picking up where he left off last year batting .455 and leading the team with ten hits after missing all of Spring Training II. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are both healthy, and we can stop right there because that alone is a plus – except that both are back as power threats with five home runs between them.
On the pitching side, the Yankees rank ninth in the league with a team ERA of 4.04. Thirty-seven hits surrendered in 29 innings puts them at number one (worst) in the league, and that 16 base-on-balls put them at second-worst in the league.
But Gerrit Cole is 2-0 and looking every bit like the ace the Yankees captured over the winter. Jordan Montgomery came back with intensity last night in a Yankees win over the Red Sox, but J.A. Happ and James Paxton need to pick up the pace as they sport ERAs of 9.00 and 27.00 respectively.
Yankees: Don’t Mind The Commissioner – Keep Winning
The Yankees have demonstrated a willingness to accommodate COVID-19, even if it means altering their schedule with on the fly travel to another city, rather than not playing at all.
This is a Yankees team with tunnel vision set on one goal, to bring New York its 28th World Series win. It’s like, “Commissioner, tell us where to be, and we’ll be there ready to play.”
Surely, in that regard, most teams feel the same way in being dedicated to playing the 2020 season through, regardless of hurdles that have yet to arise.
Rob Manfred’s spirit may be in danger of breaking due to the pressures of making the season happen amid a pandemic.
But the Yankees are here to play. And for that matter, so are the Marlins who are still capable of fielding a team from their taxi squad plus pick-ups, an already underway by Derek Jeter.
For the moment, let’s just hope that Rob Manfred had a brief brush with insanity, and when he wakes up again, he’ll go back to realizing the effort teams are enduring to make this thing work.
The Yankees see the cup half-full, and so should the Commissioner.