The Real Problem In Baseball

Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball (MLB)(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball (MLB)(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) /

Major League Baseball has a problem with accountability.

Maybe this is a societal problem, but for today we will focus on Major League Baseball and the inability of the people within, and in association with, the game to take ownership of their actions.

Earlier this month the Houston Astros were awarded one of the most significant sanctions in baseball history.  As I discussed in a previous article, MLB decided to make the managers and General Managers associated these scandals, the “fall guys.” AJ Hinch, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran, have been (and will continue to be) the three on field characters most impacted by the commissioners report.  There were no current players mentioned and, not so ironically, each of the aforementioned individuals were prepared to serve as a manager heading into the 2020 season.

The managers are recognizable figures, but the league doesn’t depend on them in the way that they depend on their superstars and owners.

Since then, Astros owner Jim Crane has pleaded ignorance and fired his Manager and GM.  But the reality is Crane has known about the sign stealing for weeks. Instead of holding his manager and GM accountable, he waited until MLB dropped sanctions on each of them.  Crane’s actions are those of a man who is trying to save face, not someone who genuinely cares about the culture or actions of the people who represent his franchise.

On Wednesday, Crane announced that the Astros would issue a formal apology when they convene for spring training in February. Weeks after the report was concluded and the Astros put Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve on display at the Astros FanFest program.  Bregman looked like he’d been watching Mark McGwire testify in front of congress, while Altuve declared that the ‘Stros would be back in World Series in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal reports that prior to the investigation the league cut a deal with the players.  MLB wouldn’t out any player (somehow other than Beltran) that engaged in the scandal as long as the players cooperated.

I get deal and the logistics behind the players not speaking. I also understand that Rob Manfred works for the owners so he isn’t going to significantly sanction Jim Crane. Somehow understanding the ‘why’ doesn’t make this situation any better.   People are trying to save their reputation, but I genuinely believe this story could have been much less significant than it’s become. If Crane was truly in the dark on the cheating, he should have come out when he was first made aware of the situation and said;

We understand that there is an ongoing investigation with our team, we recognize that were wrong in the way we conducted our business and we have put in specific measures to make sure these things don’t happen again.

Oh, and fire your manager and GM.

Sure, people would still be upset and have had opinions, but at least the Astros would be acting authentically while creating transparency with their fanbase. Instead the Astros have dealt with their fans similarly to how a child admits they’ve been sneaking candy before dinner; denying any wrongdoing, blaming their siblings and then finally saying “okay fine I’ll admit it, but I never want to talk about it again.”

A lack accountability was on display again yesterday after Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were selected into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.  The Hall describes its mission as “committed to preserving the history of America’s pastime and celebrating the legendary players, managers, umpires and executives who have made the game a fan favorite for more than a century.” In my mind, the Hall serves as a physical space for fans to reflect on players and eras of the past.

However, the voting process is such that a faction of baseball writers (not fans, players, managers, administrators, etc) can anonymous make up to ten selections on eligible players each year.  On Tuesday, Derek Jeter was on 396 of 397 voter ballots. A single voter elected to leave Jeter off of the ballot.

I won’t go through the accolades of “The Captain” but instead share my disappointment that the one writer who did leave Jeter off can remain anonymous. I’m not rooting for public shaming, but if you were at work, and 396 colleagues made one decision and you made a completely different one, I think you’d be asked to explain your actions.


Sure in this case, Jeter was getting into the Hall regardless, but that’s not the point. That writer has a privileged job in their voting.  As with any job, if they use that privilege to be contradictory or inconsistent, they should be questioned.

Keep in mind that these are writers. It is their job to articulate their viewpoints and share them with the public, no matter how unique they are. I see no reason that privilege of voting for the Hall of Fame shouldn’t have the same the same expectations.

I’m not saying this writer should be banned or that there isn’t logic in their decision (although let’s be honest, I am saying it’s completely illogical). However, the Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball, should treat the fans, who they rely on, with more respect than passing off blame and remaining anonymous in controversy.

We all saw the finger pointing, lying and cheating that came with the steroid era.  It’s time for baseball to recognize their faults, treat the fans with the respect that they deserve and for the game to become more accountable.