Editor’s Note: When putting the finishing touches on this piece, Brodie Van Wagenen released a statement, via the Mets, which state that the plan to delay the Mets game was Jeff Wilpon’s rather than Rob Manfred’s. Below is that statement. Therefore, there are some factual errors in the piece you are about to read.
Brodie Van Wagenen says in a statement that the idea he was ripping Rob Manfred for was not Manfred’s, but Jeff Wilpon’s. pic.twitter.com/m9QekmdftC
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) August 27, 2020
I want to make this clear. The idea of pushing the game back by an hour, thereby minimizing the players’ social justice movement, was despicable. Whether it was Jeff Wilpon or he is just taking the fall, it is an asinine suggestion that should come with disqualification of ever being taken seriously as a decent human being ever again.
However, rather than scrap the piece, I have decided to run it in it’s entirety, because I believe the overarching motifs of social justice, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the office of the Commissioner are important to hear.
Rob Manfred is a plague upon Major League Baseball. He must resign immediately.
Today, Rob Manfred decided to turn social justice into a publicity stunt which was subsequently laughed at by one of his inferiors. There is no justification for this man to have a job at this time of the day tomorrow.
Here's video of Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen discussing a plan in which he says MLB wanted the Mets to take the field, leave it and return an hour later. Van Wagenen is critical of the idea and commissioner Rob Manfred, saying: "He just doesn’t get it." (Video via @NickCocco18) pic.twitter.com/46Z9neVkJt
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 27, 2020
In a video leaked on Twitter earlier, discussing the strikes which have taken place across the sports world to bring awareness to social justice issues, Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen speaks of Rob Manfred: “at a leadership level, he just doesn’t get it.”
This much we knew. We saw Rob Manfred reside over the COVID negotiations that made way into a labor dispute. We saw Rob Manfred, all the way back in 1994, actively work to ensure that not only one baseball season would be missed, but also unsuccessfully trying to stop another. Saying he is a horrible leader isn’t news. Why? That is.
Rob Manfred, according to Van Wagenen, advocated that, instead of choosing not to play this game as a part of the ongoing Civil Rights movement across the nation, the Mets quite simply delay the game by an hour. What a statement that is, being overshadowed by the average rain delay. The reason, according to Van Wagenen? Scheduling issues.
I am so sorry, Mr. “Commissioner”, that the Civil Rights of all Americans aren’t worth rescheduling a baseball game for.
This is the man placed in charge by the 30 owners in order to make them money. Make no mistake about it, he’s done a good job at that. Teams are worth more now than ever before. And, quite frankly, to the people that actually matter, his report card as commissioner is an A. An A+ perhaps.
Because the owners don’t care. They don’t about anything other than money. They never have cared about anything but the bottom line. That became apparent this offseason, when they chose to have less baseball be played. That became apparent a couple of offseasons ago, when Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel had to wait until June to play in the Major Leagues.
Almost every owner has sent out the boilerplate “we support these decisions” message, but none of them will speak out against “commissioner” Manfred for trying to undermine his players participating in a Civil Rights movement. None of them will speak out against “commissioner” Manfred for refusing to support the Black Lives Matter movement more than empty words. None of them will speak out against “commissioner” Manfred because he makes them money. And isn’t that what owning a baseball team is for?
We need to listen to players like Dom Smith, whose emotional press conference answer last night was the driving force behind multiple postponements today. We need to listen to Jason Heyward, Matt Kemp, Mookie Betts, Dave Roberts, and Dexter Fowler, who took a stand last night that Civil Rights are more important than baseball. We need to listen to Cameron Maybin, founder of the Players’ Alliance, who in a statement today, said that he wants to play but that “it’s bigger than us. [It is] about the future.”
Major League Baseball, the league of Jackie Robinson, is only 7.8% black. If MLB is going to celebrate Jackie Robinson, as the league plans to do tomorrow, the least they can do is pretend to care about the lives of those 7.8%, because right now, they do not.
If ownership even wants to pretend they care about the lives of their players, or social justice, they must actively attempt to cut ties with a man who has become the antithesis of positive change. They must cut ties with a man who has made a mockery of social change, civil rights, and the lives of black Americans. They must cut ties with the worst thing to happen to baseball in my lifetime, and probably a lot longer.
They must cut ties with Rob Manfred, and until that happens, baseball is going to be nothing more than a hollow shell of the institution we have always known, but rather the institution those before Jackie Robinson did.