David Wright
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Video: Mets honor David Wright in his final game

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It was an emotional night for Mets legend David Wright, who took the field on Saturday for what may well be his last career appearance in the majors. With a sold-out crowd already on their feet, Wright walked out to the field before the rest of the team and took a moment to salute the fans. He was followed by Jose Reyes, who also took a moment to himself before the rest of the team joined the pair on the field. According to Elias Sports, it marked the 878th time Wright and Reyes shared the field together, the most by any two players in franchise history.

After receiving the ceremonial first pitch from his two-year-old daughter, Olivia Shea, Wright made it through the first inning without a single ball hit in his direction. In the bottom of the inning, Jose Reyes led off with a double to right, and Jeff McNeill bunted him over to third to give Wright a one-out, man-on-third opportunity for his first at-bat of the night. Wright worked a full count against Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards before taking a walk, but was quickly removed from the basepaths after Michael Conforto grounded into an inning-ending double play.

In the second, Wright finally got a chance to show off his glovework as Bryan Holaday grounded out to third to bring the top of the inning to a close. His final at-bat didn’t arrive until the fourth inning, however, and he inked his last line in the Mets’ history books after skying a pop-up into foul territory on a 1-0 pitch from Richards. He returned to the field in the fifth for a ceremonial farewell to his teammates and fans, all of whom appeared to be standing and chanting as he tipped his cap one final time.

It was a moment — an evening — that had the captain in tears.

After battling multiple back, shoulder, and neck injuries over the last several years, the veteran third baseman is expected to cap his 14-season career with seven All-Star nominations, two Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards, and a lifetime .296/.376/.491 batting line, 970 home runs, .867 OPS, and 52.2 fWAR. Wright won’t take the field again when the Mets play their last game of the season on Sunday, but suffice to say, there was no better way to send off one of the most decorated players in team history.

Don’t let Rob Manfred pass the buck

Rob Manfred
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Yesterday morning, in Ken Rosenthal’s article, Rob Manfred made it pretty clear what his aim is at the moment: throw blame on the union for the sign stealing scandal getting to the place it is. It was clear in both his words and Rosenthal’s words, actually:

In fairness, Manfred was not alone in failing to see the future clearly. As far back as 2015, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) expressed concerns to MLB about the rise of technology in the sport. The union, however, did not directly focus on the threat to the game’s integrity.

Then, in his press conference yesterday, he went farther, saying that the union refused to allow a situation in which punishment might happen, going so far as to claim that the union refused to make Astros players available for interviews without blanket immunity.

The union, both in its official statement last night and in Tony Clark’s words to Yahoo’s Hannah Keyser earlier this afternoon, is basically saying Manfred is full of it:

“We were approached with respect to their intentions to not discipline players. Our legal role and responsibility is inherent in accepting that consideration, which is what we did.”

Which is to say, it was Rob Manfred, and not the union, which started from the presumption that there was immunity for Astros players. Manfred is the one who settled on that at the outset, and he’s now trying to make it look like the union was the side that insisted on it so that people who are mad will get mad at Tony Clark for defending the indefensible as opposed to getting mad at him for creating a situation in which there was no legal way to punish Astros players.

And, as we have noted many times already, he did create that situation.

It’s undisputed that Manfred never attempted to make rules or set forth discipline for players stealing signs. Indeed, he did the opposite of that, saying over two years ago that GMs and managers, not players, would be held responsible. If he wanted to discipline players now, he’d have a big problem because he specifically excluded them from discipline then. I’d argue it was a mistake for him to do that — he should’ve said, three years ago, that everyone’s butt would be on the line if the cheating continued — but he didn’t.

Some people I’ve spoken to are taking the position that the union is still to blame here. I’m sort of at a loss as to how that could be.

It is the union’s job to protect its members from arbitrary punishment by management. It is not the union’s job to say “hey, I know our workers were off the hook here based on the specific thing you said, but maybe we should give them some retroactive punishment anyway?” If someone in charge of a union proposed that, they’d be in dereliction of their duties and could be fired and/or sued. Probably should be, actually. A lot of people might be mad about that, and I know fully well that unions aren’t popular. But then again, neither are criminal defense attorneys, and they don’t go up to prosecutors and say “well, there isn’t a law against what my client did — in fact, the governor issued an order a couple of years ago saying that what he did wasn’t prohibited — but we’re all kind of mad about it, so why don’t we work together to find a way to put him in jail, eh?” It’d be insane.

That doesn’t make anyone feel better now. The players are certainly mad, with new ones every day finding a camera to yell at over all of this. I get it. What has happened is upsetting. It’s a situation in which some members of the union are at odds with other members. It’s not an easy situation to navigate.

They should take that anger, however, and channel it into telling their leader, Tony Clark, that they don’t want this to happen again. That, to the extent Rob Manfred now, belatedly, proposes new rules and new punishments for sign-stealing or other things, he should get on board with that. They should also — after the yelling dies down — maybe think a little bit about how, if the facts were slightly different here, they would never argue that Rob Manfred should have the power to impose retroactive or other non-previously-negotiated punishment on players.

Either way, neither they nor any of the rest of us should take Manfred’s bait and try to claim that what’s happening now is the union’s fault. If, for no other reason, than because he doesn’t have much credibility when it comes to this whole scandal. Remember, he’s the guy who issued a report saying that, except for Alex Cora, it was only players involved despite knowing at the time he said it that the front office had hatched the scheme in the first place. Which, by the way, similarly sought to make the players out to be the only ones to blame while protecting people on management’s side. He’s not someone who can be trusted in any of this, frankly.

At the end of the day, this was a scheme perpetrated by both front office and uniformed personnel of the Houston Astros. To the extent nothing more can be done about that than already has been done, blame it on Rob Manfred’s failure of leadership. Not on the MLB Players Association.