MLB Commissioner under siege over handling of Astros scandal

Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has become, at times, the highest-paid pin cushion in sports, providing face and voice to unpopular decisions made by the billionaires behind the curtain. Sometimes, most notably in connection with the Ray Rice scandal in 2014, the criticism morphs into a full-blown siege.

Currently, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred currently can relate. His handling of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal shows shockingly  little leadership, conviction, or perspective. Most recently, Manfred suggested that the outcome that clearly should have occurred — stripping the 2017 World Series championship from the Astros — would have been “futile” because he simply would have been taking back a “piece of metal” from the franchise whose advance knowledge of pitch type and placement UNDOUBTEDLY fueled regular season and postseason wins.

On Monday, third baseman Justin Turner verbally obliterated Manfred’s comments on behalf of the Dodgers, the ultimate victims of the Astros’ scam.

“I don’t know if the Commissioner has ever won anything in his life,” Turner said. “Maybe he hasn’t. But the reason every guy . . . is working out all offseason, and showing up to camp early and putting in all the time and effort is specifically for that trophy, which, by the way, is called the Commissioner’s Trophy. So for him to devalue it the way he did yesterday just tells me how out of touch he is with the players in this game. At this point the only thing devaluing that trophy is that it says ‘Commissioner’ on it.”

Turner is right, and Manfred is lucky. If baseball were as popular as it used to be (and there once was a time when it was more popular than football), Manfred would be in grave danger of losing his job. Indeed, if Goodell had handled a such a blatant instance of cheating that so clearly creates an unfair advantage that strikes at the very heart of the game this way, he’d be gone.

Manfred also is lucky because people don’t bet on baseball the way they bet on football. Separate and apart from the supposed purity of sport, people who bet on the Astros’ opponents throughout this scandal got screwed. If that had happened for NFL bettors, the outcry would have been deafening — and Congress already would have had hearings.

Speaking of Congress, where are they on this one? Although some people love to recite the “they have better things to do!” mantra whenever Congress is showing interest in something that could adversely affect those people’s interests, the truth remains that Congress regulates and governs matters of clear public interest. Professional sports fall squarely within that category and, again, if this were a football scandal, members of the House Judiciary Committee already would have grilled in five-minute increments Goodell and every player and coach with direct or indirect knowledge of the facts from which the scandal arose.

None of this means that Manfred will survive this. Frankly, he shouldn’t. The point is that, if something like this happened for the NFL’s Commissioner, the NFL already would have hired a new Commissioner.

31 responses to “MLB Commissioner under siege over handling of Astros scandal

  1. Manfred had his hands tied:

    If he had gone all-out like some wanted, we would have been potentially looking at a work stoppage in 2021 because the cheaters would do anything to block anything against them. The MLBPA is by far the strongest union in professional sports and Godell would never have had similar restrictions.

  2. These guys don’t play for a trophy. They play for millions of dollars and fame. The trophy might make them a few more million dollars and give them more fame, but that’s the reason they want the trophy so bad. There has been very few players who have taken less money to go to a team to win the trophy. Tom Brady and maybe Karl Malone in his last year are about the only players I can think of and they both made plenty of money.

  3. Botched though it may be, at least MLB has acknowledged the cheating and coaches have been fired, unlike the NFL who mostly ignored the Pats multiple documented cases of filming signals and using code breakers to gain a real time advantage.

  4. Yes! Thanks for speaking out on this non-football but very important topic. Nothing like this has ever happened in any sport: a teamwide cheating machine that extended from the front office to the coaches to the players. It makes the Patriots look like saints! And if the Astros were a college team, the NCAA would have shut them down for lack of institutional control. What a horrible look for MLB.

  5. Sign stealing has been common practice in both football and baseball for decades. If people think a team like the Yankees wins 27 world series titles without cheating, I have a bridge to sell to each and every one of you. Ask Philly fans how they feel about that 2009 World Series. For example, they were accused of cheating via sign stealing in 2011 and 2015, but the commissioner tucked it under the rug. Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Roger Clemens, and other ones come to mind. This corruption runs deep. The Astros were not the first or the last to violate that rule.

  6. Oh please. The GM and manager both got fired over it and so did Alex “the bin” Cora in Boston. Goodell hasn’t done anything to the Patriots who constantly get caught cheating and breaking the rules besides a few draft picks.

  7. Cheating scandals in football are usually laughable, but knowing type of pitch in baseball is everything.

  8. I agree 1,000% Florio. I said the day this story broke they should be stripped of their title and when the Red Sox story fully unfolds they might have to be as well. This is cheating that is systemic on a grand scale that had a major impact on the game. The 2017 MLB title should be vacant and the Commissioner could not have handled it worse.

  9. His ESPN interview was insane. The teams cheated to won a championship. Period. The players and MLB reaped a ton of benefits from this. At a minimum neither should be allowed to compete this year.

  10. Baseball is an utter chaotic mess.
    No leadership.
    Keeping Rose, Bonds & Clemens from the HOF
    is plain stupid.
    Analytics killed the sport.

  11. He could have banned the Astros from the playoffs for the next 3 years. Even if they went 160-2, send them home and invite the next team in the standings. That would send a message to ALL teams that the punishment will be severe – but Manfred did the least he could.

  12. I dont think banning them from playoffs is the smart thing to do. It gives them no incentive to go out and play hard every day, thus giving victories to their competitors. I like the idea of stripping the cheated title, suspending the manager and GM, AND fining each player from that team a percentage of their salary from that season. Manfred could not be handling this any worse than he is. Its really hurting his sport.

  13. Imagine if a NFL player spoke like that to Goodell. He’d be fined and suspended within the week because of “integrity of the shield” and for criticizing the commisioner.

  14. What the Astros did has been going on in baseball for 100 years. If teams werent trying to do it, how could they stay competitive ?

    EVERY sport has teams pushing every advantage to the limit. No Commissioner will strip a team of its championship because the money has already gone into the owner’s pockets.

    With Gambling going hand in hand with all professional sports, none of these billion dollar industries will EVER be left to CHANCE …

  15. Like Bud Selig would have handled this any better.Baseball has been full of cheats and crooked self dealing for as long as I can remember.

  16. Baseball was in its death throes when the owners & the Commissioner decided to let steroids use run rampant & the baseballs were flying out of the stadiums across America…That brought the game of baseball back to the forefront of sports…and now you have this dumpster fire in Houston…The Commissioner could be a hero but so far has been a big fat zero…

  17. Manfred needed to send a trial balloon to the media.
    This guy and Daryl Morey are trying to steal stupidest sports person on earth from Goodell, and I think they can just see Goodell’s back from where they are.
    But let’s be clear, the Patriots cheated and ALL the tapes were destroyed ( unless the Patriots had doubles 😊).
    So we never really knew what Patriots did, so let’s give Manfred an angstrom of space for transparently revealing the cheating the Astros did.
    Although the “ they stopped Cheating in early 2018 “ made me laugh so hard I spit out my drink on my keyboard.
    They cheated from 2015 till the last out of 2019, and I’m sure other MLB teams cheated too.
    Only 2 teams on the field at a time, and if you think they both don’t cheat as much as they can plausibly can get away with, you probably believe Wall Street, the government, and the NFL refs are all playing fair.

  18. This whole scandal makes the Nationals win over the cheaters even more impressive; when the Nationals noticed something odd about how easily their best pitcher was being hit, they immediately changed things and the Astros disappeared.

    I think the franchise should be revoked and the owner forced to sell the team to someone in a third rate market where no one will show up for games.

  19. What a load of BS. Sign stealing is rampant in baseball and has been for decades with no effort by the league, coaches or players to ever try to stop it, but now we have this fake outrage and calls to strip these guys of their title because the Astros figured out a way to steal signs better than other teams did? Ridiculous.

  20. I’m thinking of those pitchers who got lit up and was then sent to the minors or released from baseball.

    Someone has to sneak a drum into their stadium and bang it on every pitch. The Indians used to ? maybe still have the guy playing in the outfield ?

  21. Goodell has been waaaaaaaaay worse at investigations than Manfred. Bountygate, bullygate, Zeke, Rice, Josh Brown, deflategate, suppressing concussion reasearch et al. Goodell still has the title belt.

  22. Cheating in sports is acceptable as long as drugs aren’t involved. Look at TB, the greatest playoff cheat of all time, while Lance Armstrong never flunked a test, even got on the podium after better testing and retirement, and will never be forgiven. It’s all rigged, just like life.

  23. It’s good news for every vaunted cheat (A-Rod, Clemens, Sosa, Bonds, etc) in baseball history. Open the HOF doors to the backflow so that Rose, the Black Sox, and every other merd can find his rightful place.

  24. The breakdowns happen because the decisions are never made with the integrity of the game in mind. They are only made when the weight of the wallet can be lightened. MLB knew about it and just sent out a memo. It wasn’t until the potential scandal became public that MLB decided to investigate. The figurehead commissioners and the owners are only concerned with their own personal legacy and not the legacy of the game fans love. Players cheated. MLB knows who some of those players are yet MLB decided that no player would be punished. That’s wrong. PED’s cheat the game and are handled via lengthy suspension. This type of cheating should warrant the same.
    Sidebar: Bettors should NEVER impact any sport league. They do not matter. Their actions are independent of what goes on in the league. If they “get screwed” that is only because they chose to put that money at risk.

  25. Manfred may have bungled the Astros situation, but at least he didn’t invent a fake rules violation to distract a team as they prepared for the Super Bowl, then suspend their QB and steal a 1st round pick. Goodell can’t say that.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.