How much do commissioners truly control in a sports league? Across the big five sports in America, the commissioners of each of these leagues are at the forefront of much fire towards their sport. Although they are the lightning rods of their sport taking any blows to the brand, they also contain more power than you may know. That power, whether they use it or not, has come to light in an unsettling way to baseball fans with recent events taking place.
Just last week, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement letting fans know that the Midsummer Classic will no longer be played in Atlanta this season. The decision was made shortly after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a new bill that has found itself in hot waters with many influential people and the MLB itself. The new law created by politicians in the Peach State has been criticized heavily for the effects it may have on the state’s elections and the ability for people to make their voices heard. Manfred in a statement asserted that the exit of the All-Star Game in Georgia was “to demonstrate our values as a sport”. The game and events are now set to be played on July 13th at Coors Field in Denver.
This move by the MLB has brought to light on a national scale the flaws of the state’s new bill. Manfred said in a statement that “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box”. However, something that has not been mentioned is the control that Manfred has had over the MLB as a whole. Though the intentions of Manfred and the MLB are true, has the commissioner of America’s pastime truly always tried, in his words, “to demonstrate our values as a sport”?
During both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the Houston Astros baseball club used technological aids to steal signs from opposing teams when playing at home. The signs would then be relayed to the hitter by the banging of a trash can from the dugout. During these two seasons, the Astros managed to win a World Series and be atop of the baseball world. These tactics were discovered publicly in 2019 and the actions of the organization came to light. To this day, the city of Houston still claims a World Series title, and none of the players involved in these acts of cheating were fined or suspended.
Commissioner Manfred utilized zero power and brought no discipline to Houston’s cheating scandals. What is the most interesting part of all of it is that the Atlanta Braves have no affiliation whatsoever to the state’s new bill, yet state officials in Georgia believe the city will lose close to $100 Million in revenue. The Astros organization was fully responsible for their shameful actions yet received no punishment from Manfred. Hunter Cullum, a Braves fan here in Greenville, thinks the MLB’s actions towards the Braves “… helped nobody achieve what they wanted to this year”. Cullum believes this action shows Manfred used a, “more political” punishment rather than discipline towards the Braves organization.
The point in case here is not to critique what Manfred did do with the All-Star Game, but rather what he didn’t do in a situation that struck much more close to baseball and the integrity of the game. It seems that letting teams get away with cheating does not “demonstrate our values as a sport”, yet nothing was done by Manfred or the MLB.
Media by Noah Casali.