On opening day, Rob Manfred penned an open letter to fans. After a week and a half of baseball, I have a response for him.
To Rob Manfred:
Baseball is back. Well, kind of. You’ve made some fundamental changes to the way the game is played. But after an absence unlike any in baseball history, we finally get to watch a watered-down version of the game we love.
You’ve decided to award second base to both teams starting in the 10th inning. You’ve decided that relievers facing less than three batters is a substantial reason why baseball is becoming less and less popular. You’ve turned doubleheaders into 7 inning little-league games. There is no change to the game that would be considered too drastic. Major League Baseball games are resembling baseball less and less.
The process you chose to employ while “taking every step possible to preserve the health and safety of players and personnel” proves you either a liar or a man of extreme incompetence. Your process was unsuccessful in completing one single carousel of road trips as both the Marlins and the Cardinals, and subsequently the teams they’re playing, have been on hold for the better part of a week now.
Your Opening Day letter praised the players. “Their support of our protocols has made Opening Day possible.” Your most recent statement attempts to absolve you and your owners of any blame. “The players need to be better,” you claimed. With no hint of common sense telling you that it’s an insanely terrible idea to travel the country during a pandemic to play a game, you seem to believe if the season is a success, it will be because of your protocols, and if it fails it will be because players didn’t follow your protocols.
Every positive test of an MLB player or staff represents an unbroken transmission chain of a virus that is ravaging our country. Those transmissions may well have the official MLB logo embedded in its microscopic cultures. It’s your game that’s furthering these transmissions and while your naiveté shines bright, I’m certain you can’t believe that these transmission chains are stopping with MLB players.
After blaming the players yesterday you continued, “I’m not a quitter. There’s no reason to quit now.” Besides insulting players like Lorenzo Cain who’ve decided to opt-out for safety reasons (he must be a quitter, right?), Commissioner Manfred, you’ve made me a quitter. I’ve been to Opening Days and playoff games. I’m a FanGraphs subscriber and a Patreon supporter of Effectively Wild. I play daily on both FanDuel and DraftKings. I’m a male in the 18-49 demographic. I’m your audience, and I’m quitting baseball. While I can give you over 11,500 reasons to quit, see that’s the number of people in the United States who have died from a virus that didn’t exist at this time last year since you started playing a game a week and a half ago, you won’t quit until more who are similar to me do.