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Rob Manfred is meeting Donald Trump today

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Since the election, a parade of folks have made their way in and out of Trump tower to meet with our next president. Some are job seekers, some are favor-curryers and some are simply goofing around. I’m going to leave it to you to figure out what category Rob Manfred falls into:

Baseball has all manner of political concerns, even if you choose to ignore them while yelling “stick to baseball” at those of us who do not. MLB has its own lobbying outfit, it has deep interest in all manner of legislation, it is subject to special treatment under federal law which it desperately wants to protect and, of course, baseball teams are owned by a bunch of billionaires and billionaires ALWAYS have a seat at the table of power, whether we like it or not. Manfred is the billionaire’s public face, so it’s natural that he’s going to meet with the new president.

Trump himself has shown an interest in baseball. He played when he was young. He  feuded with Cubs ownership last year, when the politically active Ricketts family donated money to other candidates. He then hired part of Cubs ownership, younger brother Todd Ricketts, who will likely be the next deputy commerce secretary, in part I assume because the Ricketts later changed course and donated to Trump. There was the time Trump tried to buy the Cleveland Indians, which he almost certainly wanted to move to Tampa, but that fell through. I doubt even he holds grudges that long, and most of the people involved in that are dead now, so I don’t guess Manfred is there to make amends.

Either way,  later, when the photos of Manfred walking into Trump Tower hit the wire, save one. And then look at it the next time you feel like yelling at someone to keep politics out of baseball. Because baseball is not interested in keeping politics out of baseball or baseball out of politics. Why should anyone else?

UPDATE: From the pool reporter at Trump Tower:

At 11:49 am, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to the pool, very briefly:

“I had a really nice meeting with the President-elect. He explained to me his history with the game and what a great baseball fan he is, and we are glad that we had an opportunity to get together before his inauguration.”

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.