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.