As the fallout from the Houston Astros cheating scandal fails to fade into the background, the most recent response from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred continues to be largely tone deaf.
In an interview over the weekend, Manfred talked about the league-wide reaction to how his office handled the situation. He said there was discussion about stripping the team of their World Series title, but that in the end he felt the punishment was appropriate. He felt the players — the ones who suffered no punishment — have paid a price.
“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.”
There is little question that the players have had some difficult moments in the press, but to say they have paid any kind of meaningful price for this is laughable.
Manfred went on to talk about his consideration of whether to strip the team of their championship.
“The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act. People will always know that something was different about the 2017 season, and whether we made that decision right or wrong, we undertook a thorough investigation, and had the intestinal fortitude to share the results of that investigation, even when those results were not very pretty.”
This whole situation seems to have run into certain amounts of futility in a variety of aspects. Equating winning the World Series to little more than the trophy it represents isn’t a great look, and using the same breath to suggest that the league may have considered not even sharing the details of what the Astros had done wasn’t too helpful.
Finally, in addressing retaliation by other teams for what has occurred, Manfred once again assured the boys that he had their backs and that if the league wouldn’t hold them accountable, he would do his best to limit the ways anyone else could.
“We’ll be issuing a memorandum on hit by pitches which will increase the disciplinary ramifications of that type of behavior. I think that will be a tool for dealing with whatever flows from the Houston situation.”
As I get older, I have increasingly mixed feelings about pitchers throwing at batters, and don’t mind a harsher punishment for the action in some cases. Regardless of what Manfred says the purpose is, to institute a rule change around the practice at this point is going to look like what it is: an act meant, at least in part, to protect Astros players from retaliation.
I’m sure Manfred can’t wait to get this season underway. The best thing for scandals like this is time, and for the commissioner, it can’t pass quickly enough.
Cameron Maybin is happy to be back in Detroit, and the Tigers are happy to have him for yet another stint with the team. The Maybin signing most likely brings a close to the Tigers’ offseason free agent activities. Manager Ron Gardenhire likes Maybin’s attitude and his ability to play all over the outfield, and while he likely won’t hold down a permanent spot at any one post, look for him to be in the mix in any of the three spots throughout the season.
Maybin’s return is not without some controversy. He reported to camp on Sunday morning, and, having been a brief member of the Astros 2017 squad, he faced some questions about his role in the sign stealing scandal. Maybin played in 27 games for the Astros in 2017 and even though his time was short, he says he feels regret that he didn’t say anything about what was going on.
“Honestly, I feel like things that went on in the 2017 season with the Astros — which I was there for a month and some change — definitely doesn’t reflect how I approach the game and how I play the game... Hindsight is 20-20. It’s tough. Being in that locker room, knowing what was going on, we all could have said something about it.”
Maybin carried a .182 average in his run with Houston, so it’s hard to say he gained much of an individual benefit from the practice, but he did get a World Series Championship for his troubles. To those who think the championship is tarnished, Maybin gets it.
“Do I understand people’s opinions if they think it is. I can’t say anything. If they think it’s tarnished, people are entitled to their opinion.”
Despite the scandal and the questions from the media, there don’t seem to be any problems between Maybin and his Tigers teammates.
- Evan Woodbery of MLive gives Al Avila an A on the offseason, saying that although he has done well on paper, the real test is where they are at the end of the year, and what Avila does in the years to come.
- Michael Fulmer has reported to Lakeland with his recovery on schedule. With a fixed up elbow, no more knee pain, and 20 pounds lighter (Best Shape of His Life alert!), the year off may have been one of the best things that happened to him.
- The prospect shine may have dimmed some for Daz Cameron and Beau Burrows, but the two come into spring focused on getting better, shaking off a bad 2019 and hopefully getting a chance to play up where the tall buildings are.
- As the full squad returns to Lakeland on Monday, Ron Gardenhire has new message: it’s time to start winning.
Around the horn
Cody Bellinger says Jose Altuve stole the 2017 AL MVP Award from Aaron Judge. MLB raises salaries for minor league players. The hypothetical value of an ideal frictionless banging scheme. Tony Kemp declined to join in Astros sign stealing. Milwaukee Brewers and Brent Suter avoid arbitration with a two-year deal.