Major League Baseball complained to ESPN about Dan LeBatard’s interview of Rob Manfred

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On Wednesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred appeared on Dan LeBatard’s ESPN radio show. He did not come off well. When asked if he was aware, ahead of time, that Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter intended to trade away players and slash payroll once they took over the Miami Marlins, he said no. LeBatard accused Manfred of lying and things got pretty combative after that.

Thing is, Manfred did appear to be attempting to mislead on this count. Sure, as I argued on Wednesday, he employed some lawyerly parsing in order to, arguably, render his assertion technically true, but it was clear he was trying to deny knowing the Marlins’ plans. In the wake of the interview, however, it was reported by the Miami Herald and other outlets that Manfred and other baseball officials were well aware of Sherman and Jeter’s fire sale plans, which were code named “Operation Wolverine.”

Today the Big Lead reports that MLB officials complained about LeBatard’s interview “to the highest levels of ESPN management.”

It’s a bad look for MLB in my view. Manfred assumed he wouldn’t be asked tough questions, he was, and he came off looking bad because LeBatard is no fool. Normally someone in Manfred’s position is treated with kid gloves and he, apparently, didn’t much care not to be given that treatment. That MLB is now complaining about it makes them seem even more petulant than Manfred was on Wednesday.

The Big Lead notes that, as often happens in controversies involving leagues and networks which hold broadcasting rights, there is an inherent conflict of interest at play here, with ESPN both trying to act as a news organization and not wanting to upset Major League Baseball.

In light of that, it’ll be interesting to see if LeBatard is disciplined for his blatant act of conducting journalism.

 

 

 

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

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ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first couple of rows of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

After a single in five at-bats in the first game Tuesday, Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”