The spotlight on Major League Baseball just wont turn off. Specifically, the spotlight on Rob Manfred and the Houston Astros just won’t turn off. For their sake, I hope it doesn’t any time soon.
First, let’s take a moment to salute Trevor Bauer for his commendable thrashing against Manfred. The commissioner is no stranger to criticism from fans, players, managers, or owners. In response to a newly proposed playoff format, Bauer couldn’t remain silent. Thank you, Trevor. You did what so many fans hope they can accomplish when they tweet or complain to their fans: they hope their complaints are actually heard. Trevor Bauer was heard. And how did Manfred respond? Well he hasn’t, yet.
Many are expecting the league to fine Bauer for outwardly attacking their “leader.” I don’t expect the fine to be a large sum but Bauer’s teammates and other players from around the league should offer to help cover the fine. Bauer voiced what everyone was thinking and he was the only one to have the guts to say it.
The day after Bauer voiced his anger against Manfred, the league doubled down on their attempts to make the sport more exciting and played at a faster pace. I wasn’t happy when the playoff format was proposed, but I couldn’t believe what I heard when the new pitching rules were announced. Baseball does have a problem when it comes to game length. But the new rule (not just a proposed new rule, this is happening) requiring relief pitchers to face a minimum of three batters does not solve that issue.
In fact, it creates an entire new one. Part of the intrigue of baseball is the amount of strategy that goes into pitchers versus batter matchups. Lefties versus righties. This new rule completely alters the strategic approaches managers have taken to building their rosters. Manfred is swinging for the fences but keeps striking out.
Trevor Bauer deserves a lot of credit for taking the charge against Manfred. This was a moment when no one asked to publicly state their opinions on the matter, but Bauer did and he did it with real conviction and passion.
The Houston Astros did just the opposite at their press conference held to discuss the cheating allegations against the team. The sign-stealing scandal needed to be addressed, but they probably would have been better off if they didn’t say anything.
For the first time, we heard the players admit to and apologize for the cheating methods they used in-game to give them the upper hand. The players’ apologies were meh. Believable? Maybe? It sounded like each player was trying to cover for his teammates. No one was taking sole responsibility; it was a mistake made by the entire team.
What was more troubling was team owner Jim Crane who could not make up his mind on exactly what he wanted to say. After claiming the Astros’ cheating didn't affect game results, he denied he made the claim minutes later. Once the players finally decided to take responsibility, Crane said he shouldn’t be held accountable and this style of play won’t happen again on his watch. The lack of self-awareness by Crane is ridiculous. Please Jim, pick a lane. Either take responsibility or shut up.
Between Crane's comments and Manfred's toiling with the game, the regular season can't come soon enough so we can stop talking about these two goofs.
Jacob Recht is a producer for ESPN Pittsburgh and Steelers Nation Radio. You can follow him on Twitter @jakeyrecht
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