Rob Manfred has finally addressed the punishment he levied on the Houston Astros for the cheating scandal that rocked baseball. In doing so, Major League Baseball's commissioner just made things worse. It seems like every time he opens his mouth about any baseball issue, Manfred winds up looking awful.
On Sunday, Manfred addressed several aspects of the scandal, but his reasons for not punishing individual players raised the most eyebrows. The commissioner claimed Astros players were actually facing a punishment because they'll feel shame for what they've done. Riiiiiight.
Here's what he had to say:
"Yeah, I understand. I understand people's desire to have the players pay a price for what went on here. I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price. To think they're skipping down the road into spring training, happy, that's just a mischaracterization of where we are.
Yeah guys, we should all feel better because the Astros have been forced to think about that World Series they won and those big ass rings they have. I'm sure everyone feels much better now.
Manfred also said he wasn't sure if Astros hitters wore buzzers during the 2019 season. He just assumed they wouldn't lie about 2019 after telling the truth about 2017 and 2018, which is giving a group of liars the benefit of the doubt. Always a smart strategy.
Manfred also decided to get all passive-aggressive with the Wall Street Journal's Jared Diamond, who landed a huge scoop recently. Diamond got his hands on a letter Manfred sent to then-Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow detailing certain aspects of the cheating scandal. The fact that Diamond got the letter was some amazing reporting. Manfred didn't seem to see it that way:
This is the same guy who has a wildly-unpopular plan to contract 42 minor league teams. When news of that plot leaked out, Manfred freaked out and -- instead of defending his plan -- decided to bash Minor League Baseball.
Manfred doesn't seem to like his methods or decisions questioned at all. His immediate reaction to every story is to swing back twice as hard. It's a horrible reaction to negative press, when he should be acting like a politician. He needs to be able to field questions, handle himself in a press conference or interview and be diplomatic. That's an enormous part of his job.
If Manfred can't even handle a mild level of scrutiny, then he's not fit to be the commissioner of a major sports league.