In an interview with ESPN’s Karl Ravech, Rob Manfred defended MLB’s “punishment” of the Astros’ sign-stealing. In a long interview, he explained why he did not punish the players.
In this interview, Manfred made a couple of statements that must make fans and non-Astros players shake their heads. Take this one for example: “Yeah, I understand. I understand people’s desire to have the players pay a price for what went on here,” Manfred said. “I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price.” Paid a price? What price? The only thing we saw last Thursday was two players who read a prefabbed statement in which they didn’t show any sign of remorse. The fact that they walked away after it immediately, denying the press a chance to ask questions, shows they don’t give a damn and they only did it because they were told to.
Manfred also stated that any punishment of the players would have caused a conflict with the MLBPA. Why? Many players from outside the Astros organization have expressed their feelings towards this sign-stealing scam. They were ticked off, to put it mildly. As the MLBPA represents the players, you may wonder what conflict it would have caused. So another lame excuse by Rob Manfred.
On Ravech’s question what impact the message about certain California Little Leagues and perhaps others around the country not using the name Astros for the 2020 season had on Manfred, the latter said: “To me personally, one of the most troubling pieces of all this was the message that we sent to young people about the game.” …the message that we sent to young people about the game… You know what message you sent with your half-decent approach to this scandal? You actually said, “Just cheat kids, you’re not going to be punished for it.” He continued with “Our game is special, it teaches values to young people that serve them well when they become baseball players or not and when you hold that believe and see what happened here, you have to accept the fact that this is a step backward for us.” A step backward… Really? You and MLB alone are responsible for that Mr. Manfred. Your lame approach resulted in this step backward.
You agreed with the Astros that players would not be punished if they would tell what they did and what happened. In none of the apologies, they told what they did. Those were vague statements about how “sorry” they were and that was about it.
Of course, there have been players who said they would love to retaliate. But once again Manfred gave the wrong message. According to several news outlets, he will send out a memo in which he will warn teams about throwing at Astros hitters, noting that punishment would be more severe. So let’s protect the cheaters but punish those who want to take revenge. With this memo, Manfred says once more: “Just cheat kids, you won’t get punished anyway.”
Perhaps it is time for a fan strike. Stop buying MLB merch. Stop attending games. Hit them where it hurts most. In their wallet. Perhaps then MLB and the owners will understand that the fans don’t get fooled. This halfhearted approach will turn fans away from MLB.