Rob Manfred, is the guy who walks into a crowded chili parlor 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 meat “n” three for an arugula salad and a glass of skim milk and turns down an invitation to a Super Bowl tail-gate party because he’s got a ticket to a Barry Manilow concert. Manfred is the brother-in-law who walks into your den and switches the channel to “Cooking With Cedric” during the ninth inning of a tied game with two outs and the bases loaded.
There are three kinds of people in America: Those who love baseball, those who like baseball, and Rob Manfred.
Unfortunately Rob Manfred is the Commissioner of Baseball. Saying Manfred is good for baseball is like claiming Donald Trump is hitting on Nancy Pelosi.
A Harvard educated lawyer, Manfred got his undergraduate degree from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. When’s the last time either of those elitist Ivy League Yankee schools were ever in the College World Series? Never, that’s when. That doesn’t matter because he didn’t play for either team anyway.
I never liked Manfred’s predecessor, Bud Selig, who ran that office like an alcoholic who discovered the keys to the distillery in his pocket. Selig, who owned a not very good baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, at least had a connection to the game. His low point came in 2014 when instant replay became part of the game replacing managers kicking dirt on umpires, getting into their faces, and tossing their caps on the ground in disgust. Managers now simply voice their displeasure about a call with a video challenge. We’re losing a time-honored theatrical dimension of the sport. Baseball purists like me hate it.
Selig ineptly oversaw baseball through the disastrous 1994 players strike, the steroid drug era, the introduction of the communist-inspired wild card, and secretly colluded with the Russians for interleague play. At least he wasn’t responsible for the dreadful American League Designated Hitter rule that enables old, out-of-shape fat guys to waddle out of the dugout, strike out, then waddle back. That was initiated by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in 1973.
Before he was commissioner Manfred was a practicing lawyer. How many of the 750 players on each team’s 25-man rosters are lawyers? He has nothing in common with them or the fans, who all hate lawyers.
Harvard lawyer Manfred wouldn’t know the infield fly rule from a chocolate éclair. He uttered sport’s dumbest statement of the year in 2017 when commenting on the increase in home runs the first half of the season saying: “Our research suggests that the home run is actually a popular play in baseball.” This guy’s a genius.
Manfred was selected in January 2015 by baseball team owners on a dare, and apparently has no interest in protecting their investments. His objective appears to be to finish destroying what Selig and Designated Hitter Commissioner Bowie Kuhn started. Hiring this guy was a bad call.
I understand that the way Manfred runs major league baseball is not the only major problem in the world. It’s not North Korea’s nukes, ISIS savages, the stock market’s dramatic ups and downs, or Democrats making silly faces at Donald Trump while sitting on their hands during the State of the Union speech. Nope, it’s bigger than all of that. It’s BASEBALL for Pete’s sake.
Do Americans understand what this guy’s trying to do to our country’s pastime? He makes the national anthem kneeling knuckleheads of the NFL look like the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard.
He has no understanding of the vibrancy of baseball’s language, its mystique, and complexity that folks who grew up with it have. He thinks the games are too long, something a Harvard educated lawyer with the attention span of a gnat wouldn’t know anything about.
He wants to shorten the game from its current comfortable three-hour average time so 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 simply 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 winning run to score. Baseball is the only major sport without a clock and it needs to stay that way. To further screw up the most intricate, most pleasing and best of all sports, this clueless Harvard lawyer wants to add a 20-second pitch clock, limit visits by catchers to the mound, raise the bottom of the strike zone, reduce the number of pitching changes, and more. He has already said that a runner will be automatically put on second base at the start of the 10th inning in the All-Star game and in each additional inning to speed it up. What’s next, limiting the number of sunflower seeds a player can spit and not permitting bored outfielders to adjust their crotches? This guy could be the world’s first artificial brain donor.
You want bipartisanship in Congress? A congressional investigation of this baseball antichrist would do it. Manfred should be a slam dunk 9-0 Supreme Court decision, a 100-0 Senate vote, 435-0 House vote, and a presidential executive order away from a one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay.
Yogi Berra had to have been talking about MLB’s owners hiring this guy when he said: “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
Something To Ponder: My Atlanta friend, former business partner, Atlanta TV commentator and political pundit, Phil Kent, made an interesting point this past weekend proclaiming: “When some NFL players protest over “police brutality” by law enforcement, it is supposedly a good thing and needed. But when Republicans protest political chicanery by law enforcement officials (the FBI memo), it is ‘attacking a pillar of democracy.’ What?”
The Now You Know Department: The Georgia Public Policy Foundation reminds us that this is the 230th anniversary of the first in the series of Federalist Papers that were published. Most Americans have no idea that these 85 essays exist, let alone why. The Federalists Papers Project explains:
Between October 1787 and May 1788, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay undertook what was essentially a public relations campaign to encourage New York to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Though the members of the Constitutional Convention had already approved the document as of September 17, 1787, it could not go into effect until at least nine states ratified it. So, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay worked together to compose a series of 85 articles, published in four New York newspapers, to explain the Constitution’s structure and text and to address criticisms. Today, scholars typically refer to the collective essays as the “Federalist Papers.” Written by two of the Constitution’s Framers (Madison and Hamilton), they are an authoritative resource for academics, lawyers, and judges – including Supreme Court justices – to use to interpret the Constitution and to determine its original, or historic meaning. The Federalist Papers were successful in achieving their goal. One month after Federalist No. 85 was published, New Hampshire ratified, and the Constitution went into effect; Virginia and New York ratified soon after. Now you know.
Liberal Silliness: Former CKE Restaurant CEO Andy Puzder, says in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece that regulatory relief and tax reform are bringing more growth and better jobs. “It’s a Trump Boom,” he says. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says the president should “thank Obama. “Perhaps,” says Puzder, ” but only for setting the economic bar so low.”
Thing’s I Wish I’d Said: “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.” — Charles Kuralt.
A Slick Deal: A friend recently alerted me to an article by Danielle Wiener-Bronner in Fusion in which she refers to a study recently published in Nature Geoscience that says natural underwater oil seeps might actually aid marine life—tiny, photosynthetic, microbial life, to be specific.
The article says that researchers from Columbia University’s Earth Institute examining phytoplankton in the Gulf of Mexico were surprised to find the microbes concentrated around the natural oil that swells up from the ocean floor. That’s not because the oil itself is good for the microbes, but because when the oil bubbles rise to the surface they bring nutrients with them. These are good for the phytoplankton say the researchers.
The oil itself does not appear to help the phytoplankton, but the low concentration of oil found above natural seeps isn’t killing them, and turbulence from the rising oil and gas bubbles is bringing up deep-water nutrients that phytoplankton need to grow. The result: phytoplankton concentrations above oil seeps are as much as twice the size of populations only a few kilometers away.
Study co-author Ajit Subramanian added: “This is the beginning of evidence that some microbes in the Gulf may be preconditioned to survive with oil, at least at lower concentrations. In this case, we clearly see these phytoplankton are not negatively affected at low concentrations of oil, and there is an accompanying process that helps them thrive.”
To reach this conclusion, the researchers used satellite images, water samplings, and something called chlorophyll fluorescence, a way to measure photosynthetic energy.
Soon we may be offered small Gulf oil plates and crusty French bread for dipping to accompany a watercress sandwich and $15 glass of white wine in one of those snooty eateries.
Road To Success: According to Professor Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, a child born in the United States need only do three things to avoid living in poverty: Graduate from high school, marry before having a child, and have that child after age 20. Source: The Federalist
History in the making: Thanks to fracking and shale oil production, U.S. oil output surged past 10 million barrels a day in November, the highest monthly production since November 1970, according to the Energy Information Administration. Source: Bloomberg
Husband’s Text Message: “Honey, a car hit me when I was out of the office. Carol brought me to the Hospital. They’re doing tests and X-rays. I had a very strong blow to my head, fortunately it did not cause serious injury, but I have three broken ribs, a compound fracture in my left leg, and bones in my right foot are broken.”
Wife’s Response: “Who’s Carol?”
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: As the weather warms up and you search for a place to enjoy a cold beer, then the tiny, cozy downtown 12 South 2nd Street Pajamadave’s Beer & Wine Garden (across from the Hampton Inn and next door to Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro) is what you’re looking for featuring an eye-popping 101 different beers and ciders on tap, in bottles and cans. The selection includes a variety of domestics ranging from Budweiser and Miller to a potent Dogfish 120 with an 18% ABV. If you want something really, really different select from one of the IPA’s labeled Swamphead Big Nose and Terrapin Luau Krunkles to a Funky Buddha NIB Smuggler or Duclaw Dirty Little Freak. Or try one of the lively on tap brews of Proof Mango Wit , Original Sin Black Widow, North Coast Old Rasputin and more. There are also a variety of sours, shandy’s, spices, Belgians, and much, much more. I lived and worked in Belgium for a number of years and there aren’t many places in that beer-crazy country that have the variety that this place does. PJD’s also has a wide selection of exceptionally good wines and is smack in the middle of a restaurant and food take-out corridor that makes it easy to sip a cold one and call for a take out to be quickly delivered right to your PJD bar stool. The downtown 12 North Front Street Salty Pelican reignites it’s popular weekly brunch this coming Sunday, February 11, and every Sunday through August, from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. This year will feature music on the upstairs Pelican Perch from 11:30 am. -3:30 p.m and again from 5-9 p.m. as the sun is setting. The Sunday event will also enable diners to indulge in a do-it-yourself Bloody Mary bar for $9.00 that includes a variety of call brand vodkas ranging from Absolut and Grey Goose to Ketel One and Titos and a selection of meats, seafood, vegetables, herbs and spices as garnish. A “Bottomless” mimosa is also on the menu for $20. Seven Brunch menu items are listed including Crab Cake Benedict ($14), Choice cut steak, two eggs and potatoes ($19), huevos rancheros ($12), Shrimp grits ($16). Check ’em out at http://www.thesaltypelicanamelia.com. Attention smokers, you can no longer light up at downtown’s Palace Saloon, which was recently declared a “No Smoking” watering hole. I may be wrong but I think the Hammerhead at the corner Sadler and Fletcher, may be the last smoker’s refuge on the island.
David…I did research on MLB’s concerns regarding the average length of a baseball game. The comment by contributor Gary McKillips was correct. The average length of a game from the 1940’s until about 1999 was in the 2:30-2:45 range. Started going up in the 1980’s. Of course if Maddox, Glavine or Smoltz were pitching one could trim even more minutes off that game. I remember a Maddox game over in 1 hour 50 minutes and 85 total pitches in a game! In the year 2000 the average length did go over 3 hours (3 hours 1 min.) and remained close to that (2:55-3:00) UNTIL MLB extended the instant replay rule 2013-2014. For example…2013 (3:04) 2014 (3:07) 2015 (3:00) 2016 (3:04) and 2017 (3 hours and 8 minutes avg. time per game). In closing, the average time umpires take is 1 minute 50 seconds per challenge (2 minutes) Four challenges are allowed with each manager/team getting two per game. That’s 8 minutes added on to practically every game. MLB created this problem as the use of technology directly is interfering with the game “the boys of summer” play. Tom Y.
Your amusing comments on Mandrake, baseball’s crackpot commissioner, are right on target. In the gap for extra bases. One of contemporary baseball’s many problems is that baseball people are being replaced by Ivy League lawyers, corporate drones, MBAs, marketing majors, and computer geeks. This has led to the melancholy results anyone who knows and loves the Grand Old Game could have predicted. Whatever possessed the 30 team owners to pick this capon? He has about as much feel for baseball as I have for nuclear physics in Russian. Let’s review what we have on Mandrake’s watch so far: Rules that require runners to ask, “Mother, may I?” before going into their slide, Cleveland’s Chief Wahoo sent back to the reservation, and talk of adding clocks to baseball. (MANDRAKE, YOU MORON! This is baseball. Not football or basketball. If you don’t want to spend three hours at the park to watch a baseball game, don’t go. But don’t screw the game up for those who understand and appreciate it. ) I’m ready to trade this short-round (an artilleryman’s term — think about it) to the NFL for a package of sunflower seeds and a cracked bat.
Always enjoy your writings. But I am going to have to take a different view of Manfort, baseball and sports in general. I attend several Shrimp games a year. I usually buy tickets online. So they have all my information, e-mail, address, phone number and probably a heck of a lot more. I have received several calls soliciting my opinions on XYZ. I always tell them I will be glad to answer their questions knowing that I understand one basic fact. AS A 77 YEAR OLD MAN, I AM NOT THE DEMOGRAPHIC THEY HOPE (AND NEED) TO ATTRACT. They always say that is not true but we all know it is.
So Dave, I agree with you 100%. But you have to get over it. They are not trying to please you, or me. You are a grown man. Deal with it and enjoy the game like I do, as bastardized as it is and likely to become. It is still way better than football.
Dave – liked your rant about the failings of those who run the adult version of what the genteel young ladies in the UK call Rounders.
However, in your wind-up section on eateries, you failed to mention that PJD also caters to the sophisticated needs of the adult Brit beer drinkers, (and others with similar good taste), by stocking Fuller’s ESB. This London brewed amber nectar is available in its preferred state (room temperature) or, I suspect, he may also have a bottle or two suffering in the refrigerated state.
Clever, Informative,, provocative. Great column. I agree that Manfred is not the right man for the job, but still think the game is too long. Of course, I’m biased because most of my work comes after the game, which makes for a long evening. A writer above referred to the Glory Days of the sport. It was also a time when the game averaged 2:30. Replay and commercials hav added a little time, but to me the 20 second clock is the answer. It will only enhance the flow of the game—not detract from it. If you can save 1 1/2 minutes per half inning minutes and you’re almost back to the Glory Days. 20 seconds between pitches and no limit when there’s a foul ball is not unreasonable. It would stop the batter from pulling on his gloves…again and again.
One record that will NEVER be broken in MLB? Bobby Cox was tossed from a record 161 games in his managerial career. Instant re-play (the major cause for games going past 3+ hours) keeps a manager sitting on hands in the dugout while a nerd in NY decides the challenge. Is he safe or out? Is it foul or fair? Is it a home run etc. Abner Doubleday rolls over in his grave. What’s next Rob? I’m afraid to guess.
As a young boy that grew up in the south Major League Baseball was a Saturday event only.The Yankees were the team we watched so often I called them our home team.Dizzy Dean did the play by play and Pee Wee Reese was his side kick.Those were the glory days of the sport as it was loaded with the games “Greats”, Mantle,Maris,Williams,Ford,etc etc. Now I hardly know the names or stats of any of them.The multi million dolllar contracts have spoiled the game in my opinion.
The Georgia Pubic Policy Foundation? Typo, I hope? Love your blog!
To truly understand the real mystic of based ball ,you had to have grown up with it before TV, and money destroyed it’s classlessness and original grandeur.