Rob Manfred: ‘We weren’t going to play more than 60 games’

Rob Manfred 60 game season
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday, discussing the 2020 season. During the interview, Manfred admitted that “we weren’t going to play more than 60 games” in 2020.

The full quote:

I know some people have talked about longer seasons. The reality is we weren’t going to play more than 60 games no matter how the negotiations with the players went or any other factor. 60 games is the outside of the end goal given the realities of the times. I think this is the one thing that we come back to every single day. We’re trying to manage something that has proven to be unpredictable and unmanageable. I know it hasn’t looked particularly pretty in spots but having said that, if we can pull of this 60-game season, I think it was the best we were going to do for our fans given the course of the virus.

Patrick followed up, asking, “But even if the players accepted everything you offered, there was no way you would’ve gone to 80 games? It was still going to be 60?”

Manfred replied, “It’s the calendar, Dan. We’re playing 60 games in 63 days right now. I don’t see, given the reality of the health situation over the past few weeks, how we were going to get going any faster than the calendar we’re on now and no matter what the state of those negotiations were.”

Manfred went on to say that the goal was to finish the regular season no later than September 27 and begin the postseason “on its normal calendar” in early October. Experts the league spoke to projected a spike in coronavirus cases in the fall.

As always, Manfred’s words should be viewed through a particular lens in that he represents MLB team owners. The owners claimed that they would lose money on every game played without fans in attendance, games that otherwise would bring in ticket, concession, and merchandise revenues. They very staunchly rebuffed the players’ desire for a longer season, getting the MLB Players Association down from 110 games to 70 before the two sides broke off negotiations. Manfred is likely not being dishonest by saying that the pandemic was limiting the schedule, but it also is likely not the whole story.

Furthermore, if Manfred says that the schedule was never going to be longer than 60 games, did he fail to use the “best efforts to play as many games as possible” to play as many games as possible, per the March agreement? If the MLBPA decides to file a grievance, this may be one of Manfred’s quotes they latch onto.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.