Rob Manfred laughing at how much he hates baseball.

When Injuries Don’t Matter

Recently Major League Baseball’s Commissioner, Rob Manfred, appeared at a public event where he answered a number of questions from radio host and New York Yankees television commentator Michael Kay. Most of the question and answer session revolved around the usual topics of labor and pace of play. I have plenty of issues with the answers Manfred gave on those topics. However, I’m not here to write about those issues today. Rather, Manfred’s answer to a question about a specific rule change being tested in the independent Atlantic League raised my ire.

Manfred was pleased with himself while talking about MLB’s agreement to test out new rules in the ALPB. Never mind that because they are testing so many rules at once there’s no real way to gauge the changes being brought about by said rules, let alone their effectiveness. Be that as it may, Manfred thinks some of these rules will help with the non-existent pace of play problem. One such rule change will see the mound moved back from 60’6’’ to 62’6’’ in the second half of the ALPB’s 2019 season. When Kay asked if there was any concern about possible injuries from such a change, the Commissioner had this to say,

“That’s why we’re doing it in the Atlantic League.”

It’s a callous response, one that shows just the type of Commissioner Manfred is, has been, and always will be. He has no concern for the pitchers of the ALPB. Every single one of them could suffer a career ending injury thanks to this experiment and Manfred wouldn’t pay it any mind. It’s not even that the ALPB pitchers are in another league, no, the reason for Manfred’s indifference is clear as day, they are labor. Were there some new rule change that meant an owner may possibly get hurt or lose a few bucks Manfred would be tripping over himself with concern. Alas, the pitching mound being moved back in the ALPB only affects pitiful laborers, and Manfred can’t be bothered to care about them on any day.

To be fair, the spineless tub of goo that is the MLB Commissioner doesn’t bear all the blame for his comment. ALPB President Rick White deserves some of the blame as well. He may not have made the comment, but in his desire to cozy up to MLB and gain a smidge more of exposure for his league he has put his players in a position where their safety has been compromised. Manfred is the one ordering these new rules to be tested and expressing no regard for player safety in the ALPB. But, it is White who allowed the fox into the hen house and has shown an equal level of disdain for his own players’ safety.

More than likely there won’t be any injuries from moving the mound back. Players will adjust, they will figure out what they need to do as athletes to compensate for the change in distance. Manfred won’t care though, and that is the problem. He made a capricious statement for which he will never bear a single consequence. He did what he has done throughout his entire tenure as MLB Commissioner, look past any concerns involving the players and zero in on what really matters to him: keeping the owners happy and satisfying his thirst for the pace of play changes that the game has never needed.

Lead photo courtesy of Ted S. Warren – Associated Press

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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