There are three kinds of people in America: Those who love baseball, those who like baseball and Rob Manfred. Unfortunately Harvard-educated lawyer Rob Manfred is the commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Manfred is the guy who walks into a crowded barbecue joint wearing a tie and complains that the juke box playing “Waltz Across Texas” by Earnest Tubb is too loud.
He’s the guy who asks the waitress at a southern diner for an arugula salad and a glass of skim milk.
Manfred’s predecessor, Bud Selig, wasn't much better. His low point was in 2014 when instant replay replaced managers kicking dirt on umpires and screaming in their faces, a time-honored theatrical dimension of the game.
Selig ineptly oversaw baseball through the disastrous 1994 players strike, the steroid drug era and the introduction of the wild card and interleague play.
Manfred wouldn’t know the infield fly rule from a chocolate éclair.
He uttered sport’s dumbest comment ever in 2017 when remarking on the increase in home runs: “Our research suggests that the home run is actually a popular play in baseball.” This guy’s a genius.
He has no understanding of the charm and mystique of baseball that folks who grew up with it have. He thinks games are too long, something only a Harvard-educated lawyer with the attention span of a gnat would think.
To shorten it he recently decreed that teams no longer have to pitch to a player for an intentional walk, but can put a batter on base by signaling for it from the dugout. Gone are the days when batters like Ted Williams could reach out and slap an intentionally lobbed pitch over the fence for a home run or an intentional outside ball gets away from the catcher, allowing the tying run to score.
Baseball is the only major sport without a clock and it needs to stay that way. He wants to add a 20-second pitch clock, reduce visits by catchers to the mound, and more. What’s next, limiting the number of sunflower seeds a player can spit? This guy could be the world’s first artificial intelligence donor.
Yogi Berra had to have been thinking about owners hiring this guy when he said: “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
Dave Scott, Fernandina Beach