To the Commissioner:
I first want to ask you why you don’t support the great game of baseball. In this past season, some of the greatest moments in the history of the sport took place. However, there continues to be a long list of issues tied to your time as commissioner. Fans understand that not all commissioners will be loved, but your actions have impacted a generation of fans, and it may be tough to bring these former fans back into the fold.
Fans list of grievances against the owners and yourself is long. During the unprecedented 2020 season, the owners and your office tried to paint the players as greedy and unwilling to sacrifice enough during a global pandemic. Baseball was lucky to get through the 2020 campaign, but plenty of teams and players were impacted along the way.
As reported in the Washington Post, “The minute it became apparent this season was going to have to be played in empty stadiums, Manfred and the owners began moaning about their losses, even though the game has never been healthier financially than in recent seasons. New contracts with regional television networks have lined the owners’ pockets, and attendance has been strong.”
Another grievance fans have against your leadership is tied to the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Multiple managers and a general manager were fired in response to the allegations, but how much did they have to do with the scandal? None of the players involved in the scandal were suspended, and two of the three managers were back in baseball after missing a shortened 2020 campaign.
In your letter to fans, you touted the $1.7 million spent on the “broken” free agent system during November. Guess what? Players were willing to strike these deals because of the looming lockout. It’s a fundamental human need to want to know where your family will live and how much income a person can expect. Players want security and to know what the future holds.
Also, you said, “By the end of the offseason, Clubs will have committed more money to players than in any offseason in MLB history.” While that may sound good on paper, this shouldn’t be breaking news. Increasing revenues across baseball should allow teams to spend more money. Every offseason should see a new record amount of money being committed to players.
Your list of concessions to the players includes some ideas that will fundamentally make the game stronger. There should be a minimum payroll. Teams shouldn’t be able to engage in service time manipulation. Young players should be paid more, including those in the minor leagues. Fans want a universal DH. A new draft system can help to stop teams from trying to be competitive. All of these changes would make baseball more competitive, not less.
There is one thing we can agree on; baseball can not afford to cancel games. Baseball’s popularity continues to decline, and losing any part of the 2022 season will push fans further away from this great game. As you referenced regarding the 1994 season, “We owe you, our fans, better than that.”
Today is a difficult day for baseball fans. You have made questionable leadership decisions throughout your time as commissioner. What is baseball fans’ biggest problem with you? You don’t appear to be a fan of the game.