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Leadership is Failing Baseball at a Critical Juncture

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 06 July 2020 · 698 views

major league baseball rob manfred
For month we watched a public mudslinging fest take place between MLB owners and the Players Union. While the two sides have always been at odds, it’s leadership that the sport’s commissioner is supposed to provide. Rob Manfred may be a very intelligent man, but you wouldn’t know if looking at the results of his actions.

Major League Baseball owners are represented by one man, Manfred. He was chosen having come from a labor negotiations background. With the sport likely coming to an ugly labor dispute following the conclusion of the 2021 season, it was Manfred who would be tasked at following in Selig’s footsteps but not making the same mistakes. Unfortunately, we are now here, a place that has given us an unprecedented set of parameters, and a terribly worse set of mistakes.

While money was made out to be the reason players were publicly disparaged by those who own the teams, a reality is that any season in 2020 would be played during a worldwide pandemic. Although the rest of the world has done an exemplary job of flattening their curve and combatting the virus, this one is still seeing new records every day. For baseball to be played in that structure, players wanted their fairly agreed upon pay, but more importantly a safe environment in which to work.

After the dust settled on economical issues, we were given resumption. Now six days into the new Summer Camp (which mind you, has a sponsor and branding intended to drive those owner’s immediate revenue), we’ve already got a long list of avoidable mistakes. Manfred and MLB have not come through with the necessary PPE in order to properly protect those within the game. Testing is being done, but results aren’t streamlined to meet deadlines, which has now caused multiple organizations to cease operations during a three-week sprint to get ready.

The way these five days have gone is reflective of a very ugly reality. It’s a lack of leadership and follow through that paints the picture as a “set it and forget it” type of scenario. We were given a date for resumption, so everything was just going to fall into place. Major League Baseball is set to unveil the 2020 schedule tonight, but we have no reason to believe we’ll logically make it to that point.

Whether now or in the future, whether the league gets its act together or not, Manfred needs to begin asking himself for accountability. He’s banged a drum for years that the game must be changed. Pace of play initiatives and poorly thought out marketing strategies have done little to benefit even the intended bottom line. While routinely chomping on his own feet whether by calling the World Series trophy a piece of metal, or publicly suggesting the league never intended to play anything more than the minimal amount of games, he’s become more court jester than duly appointed judge.

Other sports have returned thus far, and while we’re still going up against a relatively unknown enemy, the reason to believe in positivity on those fronts is because leadership has ensured a strong plan of action. Rather than denigrating the product and squabbling over who will make more money, the first course of action was how would this be accomplished, and then everything else was allowed to figure itself out with proper runway to ensure follow through.

I certainly hope we have a 2020 Major League Baseball season to watch. The Twins are going to be very good, and the nightly drama of a 60-game sprint should be a blast. If we don’t though, it won’t be on the players opting out or the virus causing them to consider that action. It will be on leadership, specifically that of one man, who fell completely short.

For more from Off the Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

  • mikelink45 likes this



It still grates at me that pro sports resumption is predicated on consistent and frequent testing and the resulting protocols, when few others can access those privileges. And yet, with all the wealth and leverage which is obvious to anyone, they still can’t get it right. 
 

Add to that the sad comparisons of people waiting for 8 hours in AZ for a test, or LA testing sites running out of tests in "minutes" after opening and I question the whole concept and feasibility of this process. 
 

I have been a baseball and sports fan all my life, but I would think that we must have a better use of the resources consumed by this attempt to normalize life in a time when normal isn’t even a word anymore. 
 

The only thing real here is the money. The stats, the standings, even the game itself isn’t really real. It’s an asterisk waiting to happen. 

    • mikelink45 likes this
We could argue yet again about financial agreements vs reported language that provided a provision to re-open discussion once more data became evident. Example: fans, no fans, length of season, etc. But the discussion is Manfred himself.

As stated, he was hired due to past experience as a labor negotiator. Right now, he looks far less competent, IMO, than Selig. I dont know if he's incompetent, in over his head, or just a puppet of the owners. But I'm not impressed.

To be fair, I'm not impressed with the union leadership either.

Since a commissioner will always be hired by the owners, and generally work at the behest of the owners, I'm not sure where you turn. For the good of baseball, I wish the owners would bring in an intelligent, savvy individual with some clout and ego who actually loves baseball. Someone who would work for them but have the fortitude to stand up to them and just openly state: "Do you want baseball? Do you want your sport to have semblance of harmony and grow? Then listen to me!"

I don't know if they would do that. But it sure would be healthy and productive if they would.
    • Doctor Gast likes this

In fairness, it is pretty tough stuff. All the leagues are struggling to getting everything right. The PGA has been applauded for the job they have done but even there they have had a number of issues and have been constantly changing policies. 

 

One big difference is that the golfers and leadership are working together. Here they hate each other. Manfred deserves plenty of criticism and he does not seem like the right man for the time, but the union and top players have not been helping either.