Blue Jays fans hurled more than a beer can at the Orioles

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Last night Bill wrote about how a Blue Jays fan threw a beer can at O’s outfielder Hyun Soo Kim as he attempted to catch a Melvin Upton Jr. fly ball. That wasn’t all that Jays fans in the outfield hurled last night. Bob Nightengale:

Jones confirmed he heard racial and ethnic slurs towards him and Kim, a native of South Korea. Yet, as cruel as it may be, he’s become almost numb at the slurs he hears from opposing fans.

“I’ve heard that so much playing baseball,’’ Jones said. “I don’t really care anymore. Call me what you want… I get it. That’s fine’’

Except it’s not fine, for obvious reasons. Indeed, it was just the latest in a series of obnoxious acts from fans in Rogers Centre.

The beer can last night. The multiple cans and bottles hurled on the field during Game 5 of last year’s ALDS, following a controversial call involving a toss of the ball back to a pitcher. The series of incidents involving thrown objects and drunken rowdiness in the stands for Jays games.

I fully expect Jays fans to rush to the comments to say that I am unfairly generalizing. That these were just isolated incidents. That “not all Blue Jays fans” behave this way. That fans of other teams behave poorly on occasion as well, and that fans in Toronto should not be singled out. It’s a defensiveness we’ve all seen from any fan of any team when an incident occurs.

But before you do that, understand that I fully acknowledge not all of you do this and that I am not painting with a broad brush here. But such an acknowledgement doesn’t change the fact that last night was ugly as were many other nights at Rogers Centre. One does not have to agree that “all Jays fans” do this to acknowledge the ugliness of this stuff. And one does not make themselves less of a Blue Jays fans to admit that this is absolute garbage behavior.

Clean it up, Toronto. Blue Jays: ask yourself if your alcohol policies are reasonable and if they’re being enforced. Rogers Centre security: ask yourself if you’re doing enough to punish this behavior. Blue Jays fans: ask yourself if you’re, in any way, egging on, encouraging or, at the very least, accepting such behavior of your fellow fans to go on without a word, out of some misplaced sense of fan loyalty.

This crap is unacceptable, even if it is only one person doing it. In Toronto, it’s obviously more than one.

 

Rob Manfred offers little insight, shows contempt for reporters in press conference

Rob Manfred
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke at a press conference, addressing the Astros cheating scandal and other topics on Sunday evening. It did not go well.

To start, the press conference was not broadcast officially on MLB’s own TV channel (it aired the 1988 movie Bull Durham instead), nor could any mention to it or link to the live stream be found anywhere on MLB.com. When the actual questions began, Manfred’s answers were circuitous or simply illogical given other comments he has made in the past. On more than one occasion, he showed contempt for reporters for doing their jobs — and, some might argue, doing his job — holding players and front office personnel accountable.

Last month, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal broke a story about the Astros’ “dark arts” and “Codebreaker” operation, based on a letter Manfred sent to then-GM Jeff Luhnow. Diamond was among the reporters present for Manfred’s press conference on Sunday. Per The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, Manfred addressed Diamond, saying, “You know, congratulations. You got a private letter that, you know, I sent to a club official. Nice reporting on your part.” MLB’s response to the depth of the Astros’ cheating ways was lacking and, without Diamond’s reporting, we would have known how deeply lacking that response was. It is understandable that Manfred would be salty about it, since it exposed him as doing his job poorly, but it was an immature, unrestrained response from someone in charge of the entire league.

Onto the actual topic at hand, Manfred said he felt like the punishment doled out to the Astros was enough. Per Chris Cotillo, Manfred said Astros players “have been hurt by this” and will forever be questioned about their achievements in 2017 and ’18. Some players disagree. Former pitcher Phil Hughes even suggested the players have a work stoppage over this issue.

Manfred defended his decision not to vacate the Astros’ championship, saying, “The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act.” The commissioner devaluing the meaning of a championship seems… not great? Counterintuitive, even? The “piece of metal” is literally called the Commissioner’s Trophy. Manfred went on to brag about the league having “the intestinal fortitude to share the results of that investigation, even when those results were not very pretty.” Be careful, don’t hurt yourself patting yourself on the back for doing the bare minimum.

Manfred said there was no evidence found that the Astros used buzzers and added that, since the players were given immunity, he doesn’t think they would continue to hide that when asked about it. He said, “I think in my own mind. It was hard for me to figure out why they would tell us, given that they were immune, why they would be truthful and admit they did the wrong thing and 17, admit they did the wrong thing and 18, and then lie about what was going on in 19.”

The commissioner expects the league to implement “really serious restrictions” on access to in-game video feeds for the 2020 season.

There has been some recent back-and-forth between the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the Astros’ Carlos Correa. Manfred isn’t a fan of the sniping through the media. He said, “I’m sort of a civil discourse person. It must be because I’m old. But, yeah, I think that the back and forth that’s gone on is not healthy.” The reason Bellinger and others are speaking publicly about the issue, attempting to hold the Astros accountable, is because the league did not do a sufficient job doing that itself. Bellinger wouldn’t feel the need to speak up in defense of himself, his teammates, and other players affected by the cheating scheme if he felt like the league had his and his peers’ backs.

Because the players involved in the Astros’ cheating scheme weren’t punished, some — like Larry Bowa — have suggested intentionally throwing baseballs at Astros players to exact justice. Manfred met with managers who were in attendance today to inform them that retaliatory beanballs “will not be tolerated.” He added, “It’s dangerous and it is not helpful to the current situation.” Manfred has done nothing about beanball wars in the past, but it will now give the Astros somewhat of an advantage since pitchers will now be judged closely on any pitch that runs too far inside on Astro hitters.

Manfred also spoke about the ongoing feud with Minor League Baseball and basically reiterated what he and the rest of the league have disingenuously been saying since it was revealed MLB proposed cutting 42 minor league teams. Manfred’s talking point is that MLB is concerned about substandard facilities being used by minor league players, but not all of the 42 teams on the proposed chopping block have anything close to what could reasonably be considered substandard.

Lastly, Manfred was asked about the Orioles and tanking, and more or less danced around the issue by expressing confidence in the club’s ownership. The Orioles have won 47 and 54 games in the past two seasons. Payroll dropped by more than $50 million. The Orioles saw over 250,000 fewer fans in attendance in 2019 than in ’18. The O’s also saw a decline of over 460,000 fans in attendance from 2017 to ’18. But, yeah, it’s going well.

All in all, this press conference could not have gone worse for Manfred. The press found it condescending and the comments he made rang hollow to the players. Manfred seemed on edge and unprepared addressing arguably the biggest controversy baseball has faced since the steroid era. This is a dark time for the sport.