The Coronavirus has affected many aspects of the world we live in. One of them is the world of sports. One by one each sporting league fell. In some cases, such as the NBA and NHL, they were postponed until a plan to resume was formed. Others, such as the XFL, could not recover at all and crumbled. Even professional wrestling companies suffer when they have to perform live shows in front of limited audiences.
And then there’s Major League Baseball.
Baseball has not only been delayed, but there seems to be no date for baseball to return. For the first time in over 120 years, there was no baseball on Memorial Day. Every time a new report surfaces that the MLB and MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association) have reached an agreement to return to baseball, some complication gets in the way.
But with everything going on in the world, the Coronavirus did something no one expected, even with the cancellation of sports: it exposed the true issues going on in Major League Baseball.
And a big chunk of it revolves around one man… MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
The commissioner and MLBPA leader Tony Clark have been butting heads for weeks now, as the heat intensifies on starting the already long-delayed season. The two had met in Arizona recently but an agreement still wasn’t met, and Manfred wasn’t pleased, as he told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale: “I don’t know what Tony and I were doing there for several hours going back and forth and making trades if we weren’t reaching an agreement.”
The season was supposed to begin March 26th, and it’s long past that. Obviously there are issues out of both Manfred and Clark’s hands. And in the past three months, there have been controversies ranging from Minor League Baseball players not being paid at all (although teams such as the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres, among others, have paid all their organization’s players), and the MLB players taking their own stand in regards to salary.
On the players’ side of the bargaining table, Washington Nationals star pitcher Max Scherzer has been perhaps the biggest critic of Manfred and the most outspoken player on the issue(s) at hand.
He has taken to Twitter multiple times to his thousands of followers stating the overall message of the players.
“Rob Manfred and the owners are walking back on their word…AGAIN,” the Nationals ace tweeted out. “The fans do not deserve this. So I’ll say it one more time, tell us when and where.”
Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer has also been a vocal critic of Manfred and the lack of progress towards an MLB season, as he tweeted out the following:
“So, Rob, explain to us how you can be 100% sure that there’s going to be baseball but not confident there will be baseball at the same time? hmmm. What changed between those statements. Players told you to set the season, but it’s too early to set the season right now, isn’t it Rob.”
On June 22nd, the players voted 33-5 against the latest MLB proposal for a 60-game season, dealing yet another blow to the possibility of playing in 2020.
Meanwhile, Manfred is scrambling to sort the tumultuous relationship between the owners and players while trying to salvage what little trust in him is left. In addition to internal league turmoil, millions of fans worldwide have expressed their displeasure at what has transpired, to the point of where they have given up on caring about a possible upcoming season.
Naturally, the Coronavirus hasn’t helped anything. It was revealed earlier in the week that members of the Philadelphia Phillies organization, both staff and players, had tested positive for Covid-19. Teams have begun shutting down their training programs in an effort to combat the deadly virus, all while millionaire players and billionaire owners continue their arguments over getting paid and going out to play.
It’s a “not if, but when” situation in MLB right now, but by the looks of it… “when” won’t be anytime soon.