Rob Manfred is speaking at the Sloan Analytics Conference today. This raised my brow a bit:
Manfred: an effective negotiator has to have credibility at the table. Says he’s never been a believer in bluffing. #SSAC15
— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBJ) February 27, 2015
Oh, that’s not entirely true. From 2001:
Major League Baseball will move ahead with its plan to eliminate two teams next season after negotiations with the players’ union about delaying contraction until 2003 broke down Wednesday night . . . Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president for labor relations, said, ”They agreed not to contest contraction in certain circumstances, but we got hung up on defining the circumstances, and they just got narrow enough that we felt we were getting away from our fundamental position that we have the right to contract.”
Contraction, of course, was a GIGANTIC bluff on the part of Major League Baseball in the runup to the last acrimonious Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiation in 2002. The vote to contract came, not accidentally, one DAY before the expiration of the old CBA and was roundly viewed by observers as an effort to gain negotiating leverage. And, of course, it was then and remains now a totally impractical “solution” to what was even then an imaginary problem, as we have detailed here many, many times before.
Of course, Manfred was just an employee of Major League Baseball then, not its commissioner. But as the commissioner he works for the owners now just as he did, indirectly, then. If they want to bluff the players or the public or the government or the media or anyone else at some point in the future, Manfred will do so or else he’ll find himself out of a job. Beliefs notwithstanding.