IDIOT OF THE YEAR #8: Rob Manfred, who got everything wrong

Rob Manfred

Illustration: Getty Images

Welcome to Deadspin’s IDIOT OF THE YEAR festivities! Nos. 50 through 11 are available for your enjoyment here. And our top 10 thus far:

10. Thom Brennaman

9. Ted Cruz

8. Rob Manfred

7. Kyrie Irving

Earlier on in this endeavor, we said that Major League Baseball was, collectively, one of the year’s most glaring idiots. The league had endured numerous scandals involving individual players and/or entire franchises, and was never able to divert attention from the scandals onto the actual baseball being played. MLB’s dirty laundry was only forgotten by the general public when some newer, shinier scandal made its way onto the scene.


The man in charge of Major League Baseball, commissioner Rob Manfred, is entirely to blame for all of these scandals. Yes, the Astros, Red Sox, and allegedly many other teams cheated with their own various sign-stealing scandals, but did Manfred severely punish these teams for damaging the integrity of the game? No. The Astros suffered a few front office suspensions, were stripped of a few draft picks, and fined $5 million, which is roughly the price equivalent of a Nachos Bell Grande at Taco Bell to you or I. The Red Sox had their manager and a team video operator suspended. That was all. They both got away with slaps on the wrist, hence why so many MLB fans were still upset with the Astros and Red Sox even after “punishment” was doled out.

What made fans more or less forget? The Spider Tack scandal. Dozens of pitchers, potentially hundreds, were using illegal sticky substances to increase grip on the baseball and produce more spin. These weren’t just no-name pitchers either. There were former Cy Young winners wrapped up in the scandal: Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Félix Hernández, and many other prominent pitchers in Major League Baseball were named in various reports revolving around illegal sticky substances since long before Spider Tack, the brand, became an issue. That merely brought all these past reports back to the surface.

What made fans forget about sticky substances? When another former Cy Young winner involved in the Spider Tack scandal, Trevor Bauer, had several sexual misconduct allegations thrown at him.

All that and we haven’t even gotten into Marcell Ozuna, Ramón Laureano, Cleveland Guardians, Atlanta Braves’ “tomahawk chop”, or MLB secretly using two different styles of baseballs, because those were minor in the face of everything else the league endured this season.

Major League Baseball had an incredible opportunity to broaden its audiences this season with the emergence of two great, young, international superstars in Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto, each of whom finished first and second-place in MVP voting respectively in their leagues. Instead, MLB found itself drowning in a myriad of scandals that Manfred consistently refused to take accountability for. Shameful.

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