Saturday, February 5, 2022

Manfred, Greed, and Arrogance...


MLB Owners refusal to play…

I hate baseball. Or to better clarify, I hate Major League Baseball and Commissioner Rob Manfred. My ire is directed toward the MLB Owners and not the MLB Players Association. Look, I love the game of baseball. I love life as a New York Yankees fan. I hate the greed of billionaires that is keeping the beloved professional game from us. Typically, this time of year, we are looking forward to excitement to the opening of Spring Training camps in a couple of weeks. Even though pitchers are catchers are required to report earlier, many position players show up at team facilities early to begin their season preparations. The thrill of watching the Yankees begin workouts in Tampa, Florida after a winter away. The buzz around Steinbrenner Field. This year, there is only a cloud of uncertainty.

Max Scherzer, the filthy rich yet only second-best starting pitcher for the New York Mets, a MLBPA executive subcommittee member, described the differences as “We want a system where threshold and penalties don’t function as caps, allows younger players to realize more of their market value, makes service time manipulation a thing of the past, and eliminate tanking as a winning strategy.”

I know the core economics issues go much deeper than Max’s words, however, this is a start. Why cannot the MLB Owners, in good faith, come to the bargaining table with a genuine desire to find common ground and create the new Collective Bargaining Agreement to end the Lockout? The MLB Owners request for a federal mediator was a slap in the face. It was purposely designed make the MLBPA look bad. They asked for a mediator when they have not shown a willingness to participate in meaningful and productive discussions. I keep hearing words like “contentious” any time the two sides get together. The MLBPA, rightfully and correctly, declined.


San Francisco Giants pitcher Alex Wood questioned MLB’s request for a mediator. He took to Twitter to ask “How can MLB request for there to be a mediator from the Federal Government to help with negotiations when they literally haven’t even done any negotiating up to this point? Asking for a friend.”  In another tweet, Wood said “It would probably take 2 weeks just for an ‘impartial’ mediator to get caught up enough to proceed. They’d then use an already broken system/CBA as a guideline toward a new deal. Makes zero sense for anybody. Players are ready to make a fair/mutually beneficial deal!”

Yankees reliever Zack Britton also chimed in, “When attempting to negotiate a collectively bargained agreement… “bargaining” is required.”

At this point, I do not feel it matters that Spring Training will be delayed. The question is how long it will be delayed. So long as Spring Training opens by the first of March, there is the sense the regular season will begin on time. So, that becomes the new deadline. But considering this is only three weeks away, the MLB Owners need to set their egos and greed aside, and work with the MLBPA to settle their differences now. With more talks expected next week, it is paramount progress must be made. So far, there has been none despite a Lockout that is over two months old.

MLB Owners, please hear our pleas. Restore Major League Baseball. Embrace the love and passion all of us hold for the game. Treat the players and fans with respect, and we will continue to line your pockets with an overabundance of cash. There is room for compromise. Return excitement to the lives of baseball fans everywhere. We want baseball now. Oh, while you are at it, please fire Rob Manfred.

While I retain hope the Yankees will sign free agent shortstop Trevor Story to a short-term deal with high AAV, count me among those probably more willing to give the shortstop job to young Oswald Peraza over some of the stopgap names that have been thrown around. A rookie shortstop, as the team is presently structured does not make sense, but if the Yankees can improve first base, center field and possibly catching, they would be better positioned to groom a new young shortstop and survive the growing pains associated therewith. As much as I want Story, it does seem as though Isiah Kiner-Falefa of the Texas Rangers is ticketed for the Bronx once the Lockout ends. If it happens, it increases my desire for Peraza to rise to the challenge and overtake Kiner-Falefa sooner than later. 

I have given up on any hope the Yankees will sign the best available shortstop, Carlos Correa. The Yankees seem more secure just trying to build a team that can potentially make the playoffs than one who can dominate/crush its opponents. I do not want Andrelton Simmons or an encore performance by an aging Didi Gregorius. Peraza may not be ready for The Show, but the Yankees can do better until Peraza or Anthony Volpe are ready to ascend to the Bronx. It does not seem that long ago when Yankees ownership was selling us the late Tony Fernandez as the team’s starting shortstop (a Spring Training injury in 1995 opened for the door for a young lad named Derek Jeter). Cut out the middlemen and go to the future. Hal Steinbrenner loves young, controllable players. If they can play, so do I. Oswald, take Spring Training by storm (if/when it opens). Your time is within your control. Make it happen.

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals for their conference championship victories. The NFL playoffs have been very thrilling this year. I will be pulling for the Rams. Like the Dodgers are my second favorite baseball team, the Rams, since their return from St Louis, have been my second favorite football team. I am excited for Matthew Stafford. After so many years of losing in Detroit, he finally gets to play in the NFL’s greatest game and has a chance to grab a Los Angeles championship like his Highland Park, Texas high school buddy, Clayton Kershaw, before him.

Rams Offensive Coordinator Kevin O’Connell will be the next head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, my favorite team. To a degree, I am disappointed. It is nothing against O’Connell. After the failures of two successive defensive head coaches in Minnesota (Leslie Frazier and Mike Zimmer), the job screamed for an offensively minded coach. At 65, Zimmer had grown grouchy and stagnant. O’Connell is youthful (he is only thirty-six years old) and he is recognized as a bright, offensive strategist even if he does not call plays for the Rams. He has worked with new Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (they were together in San Francisco in 2016) and was one of Kwesi’s choices for head coach. 

However, Raheem Morris was the best qualified coach. This is not a statement of color, but rather a testament to a man that, despite his lack of success as a head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in his career, has gained extensive knowledge and experience, with success, on both sides of the ball and is a known leader of men. I am sorry Raheem was not given stronger consideration. He was a finalist for the Vikings job and had a second interview, like Patrick Graham. But it seems, O’Connell, even with the team’s brief flirtation with Jim Harbaugh, was the choice all along for the Wilf Family. 

I hope Raheem gets the opportunity to be a head coach again. I passionately believe, like Bill Belichick and a few other coaches, he will be more successful the second time around. Time will tell if this is a huge mistake for the Vikings. I hope not, but I will always wonder what could have been.

I honor and respect Bryan Flores for the class action lawsuit he has brought against the NFL for its hiring practices. It is unfortunate the move may cost him another chance in the NFL (he deserves an immediate next opportunity after his dismissal in Miami), but he is helping to open doors for others.

As always, Go Yankees!