February 18, 2020

Rosenthal Portrays Players Union As Bearing Co-Responsibility For Sign-Stealing Scandal; Manfred, Immediately After Saying He Learned Of Scandal In 2017, Claims His Reaction Was "Slow [Only] By A Few Months", Which Is "Pretty Damn Quick".

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, speaking on Sunday, February 16, 2020, about the sign-stealing scandal:
I think we were slow to appreciate the risk on this topic.
Ya think? Who says Manfred is completely out of touch?

Actually, Manfred and MLB may have appreciated this topic quite a while ago. It has been reported (and not denied by anyone) that the commissioner had numerous complaints about the Astros gathering dust on his desk for years. The real issue is MLB's steadfast refusal to conduct an investigation into any of those complaints.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has some additional comments from Commissioner Rob Manfred. A persistent theme in Rosenthal's most-recent article is that the MLB Players Union bears something close to equal responsibility for the scandal. Rosenthal appears to be letting MLB off the hook somewhat for its inaction and softening Manfred's pathetic reaction to this scandal.
Hindsight is 20-20. Unintended consequences, almost by definition, are difficult to forecast. ...

In fairness, Manfred was not alone in failing to see the future clearly. ... The union ... did not directly focus on the threat to the game's integrity.

Looking back, it's easy to say, "baseball should have seen this coming." ...

In baseball, though, things are rarely simple, and conflicting agendas sometimes distract from the most urgent matters. Thus, ... the MLBPA ... did not fully grasp the breadth of the problem. ...

Union chief Tony Clark has sounded occasional public warnings ... But not until [November 2019] ... did anyone on the players' side publicly suggest that illegal sign stealing was creating an uneven playing field.

One pitcher ... said he and other pitchers raised such fears at union meetings after the '16 season. When the same broad rules remained in effect for '17, the pitcher said the lack of action by MLB and the MLBPA was, "frankly astonishing to me."

So, why didn't MLB jump sooner? Why didn't the MLBPA? ...

Maybe it should have happened sooner. But baseball is moving toward a better place.
So: Manfred cannot be blamed for failing to predict the future; players need to speak publicly for their concern to be properly registered with the commissioner's office; and the union can go over the commissioner's head and unilaterally enact sweeping changes to the game. ... Interesting.

Manfred is desperately trying to rewrite his place in baseball history:
If you think about it when we really became aware that something was going on, it was in 2017. By 2018, we were on the corrective action. When I say we were slow, we were slow by a few months. Look, I don't think that that's the worst reaction time of all time. Do I wish we would have got there a little sooner? Yeah, I do. ...

Look, it's like looking backwards on the steroid thing. You've heard me say this before. The problem with chasing — when somebody else is doing something wrong, at the beginning you're going to be a step behind. That's the way of the world. There's no avoiding that. Do I wish we would have thought through, "Gee, yeah, something bad could happen here?" Of course I do. I hate where we are right now. I think that when we had a reasonable basis to come to the realization we had a problem, I think we were pretty damn quick to get on it.
Manfred claims his reaction to this scandal was only "slow by a few months" and when there was "a reasonable basis" to realize a problem existed, he was "pretty damn quick" to act. Yet Manfred also says (pretty much in the same breath) that he "really became aware of something" way back in 2017. Even if that knowledge came after the 2017 World Series, that's still two years before Mike Fiers's comments became public. And, of course, Manfred was spurred to act only because the scandal had become public and he could no longer ignore it.

Manfred hates where "where we are right now" − in a situation where MLB's chronic inaction and (after being forced to act) its weak response has resulted in an unprecedented number of players ripping both the Astros and Manfred in public, fans disgusted by the entire spectacle, including Manfred covering up aspects of the scandal that reflected badly on the owner of the Astros and claiming that only in "a perfect world" could he punish the cheating players.

Cardinals reliever Andrew Miller says it's "naive" to think, "Oh, we missed this huge, gaping thing."

Except we now know Manfred had complaints about the Astros from 10-12 teams on his desk, some of which were years old − and he didn't lift a finger. It's impossible to credibly claim that MLB missed this huge issue. #FireManfred.

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