Sailors’ mailbag: Spring training? Only Rob Manfred thinks it starts this week


It wasn’t so much that he said something completely unbelievable, because, well, that wasn’t the first time the absurd had come out of his mouth.

What’s more infuriating is that Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred expected the media, baseball fans and anyone who knew the facts to believe him that spring training 2022 could still start on time.

Speaking in his first public press conference since the player lockdown on December 2, a period of 70 days or 13 days longer than spring training, Manfred did not say the planned start of training spring — pitchers and catchers were to report on Tuesday — would be delayed.

“The status of spring training hasn’t changed at this time,” he said stone-faced, noting that there was a bargaining session on Saturday.

But he also said it knowing that the owners of MLB would enter this session with no intention of negotiating for a solution, but would offer only minimal concessions that would lead not to a solution but to more stalemate.

So, uh, has the status of spring training changed now?

Perhaps Manfred is a fan of George Costanza’s mantra: “…just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

But Twitter’s mailbag has a more applicable Costanza quote to fit this whole situation: “Don’t insult me, my friend. Remember who you are talking to. No one is dumber than me.

Even this idiot knows a deal won’t be done in time for pitchers and catchers to report or when player positions report on Feb. 21.

Let’s be clear, I’m not calling, and have never called, Manfred, a puppet, you did. But if we use your characterization, which many might find appropriate, it’s important to remember that puppets and their actions are entirely dependent on the person or people pulling the strings to control them.

He tried to portray himself as something more than that at the press conference, praising his own resume and commitment to the game.

“In the history of baseball, the only person who has reached a labor agreement without conflict, and I have signed four of them, is me. One way or another, during these four negotiations , the players and the union reps found a way to trust me enough to make a deal.I’m the same person today as I was in 1998 when I took this job.

How many of us are the same person we were in 1998? I wouldn’t be employed if I was still that person.

Again, the owners want it to be the same person.

Remember that Manfred is employed by the owners with an annual salary of $11 million. He has a side in this situation. And he made that point clear at that press conference, trying to shift the blame to players who don’t want to negotiate — ‘phones work both ways’ — while trying to portray team ownership as a money-losing charity to provide baseball to fans.

“We actually hired an investment banker, a very good one, actually, to look into this,” Manfred said. “If you look at the purchase price of franchises, the money invested during the period of ownership, and then what they sold, historically the return on those investments is less than what you get in the stock market, which looks like the end of the stock market was a lot riskier.

His appearance at the press conference probably wasn’t ideal for the owners in terms of media and public perception, but at this point why would they care? They generated advantages for them in the last CBA negotiations and the players will never get some of these fundamental economic issues changed.


At this point, he will likely get a raise.

If Manfred and the owners really cared about the history of minor league baseball and the community spirit that these franchises can bring to small towns and villages, they would have found a way to retain the respective league names. The Pacific Coast League was good enough for Joe DiMaggio but not for a lawyer running baseball.

Instead, Manfred and MLB took over minor league baseball with all the tact of a mob giveaway or ’80s corporate takeover.

But that kind of connection between fans and minor league teams doesn’t register in the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

While I think bulldogs are hilarious in their disregard for movement and Bermese Mountain Dogs are just cuddly behemoths, my answer will always be Labrador Retrievers. I had a yellow lab named Yellow Dog. My parents had a chocolate lab called Doolittle. And they currently have a black lab named Mika. I was seriously considering stealing one of the Seattle Police Department’s bomb-sniffing dogs – a yellow lab named Sam. I’m all for a lab being a mascot. But can we have an emotional support lab in the press gallery?


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