Last week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred admitted that owners were determined to play a 60-game season regardless of how negotiations went with players.
This was a stunning admission, one that will likely not serve the owners well during the next CBA negotiations. The current deal expires after the 2021 season.
Will players ever be able to trust Manfred and the owners? Will the bond between them ever be strong?
“Honestly, I don’t know that it ever has been, and I really don’t know that it needs to be,” Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine said on Tiki & Tierney. “At the end of the day, nobody’s been in more of an adversarial relationship with the commissioner than, say, I was and some of my contemporaries during the 1994 strike. Rob was the lead lawyer, and you talk about a guy being on an opposite side that you really have some serious problems with, that was the scenario.
“Now having said that, I like Rob,” Glavine continued. “I respected Rob and how he went about his business at that point in time. I didn’t agree with any of his positions, obviously, representing the owners. But as a person, I liked him.”
As Glavine reminded listeners, though, Manfred’s allegiance, first and foremost, is to the owners.
“Everybody needs to remember that he represents the owners,” Glavine said. “As much as we talk about the commissioner and the best interest of baseball – which, there is some of that – at the end of the day, he’s employed by the owners. If I was a player today, knowing that I personally like Rob, I’m not going to sit here and tell you I trust everything that the commissioner or anybody else has to say in baseball. Let’s face it: it’s a business. Everybody is looking out for their own best interests. So you have to keep that in mind.
“Now, do you hope at the end of it all that both sides can sit down and have a civil conversation and get to a point where they can get something done? Of course you do,” Glavine continued. “But I think you’re being a little bit naive if people think that the trust level has to be just unbelievably good for there to be a working relationship between Rob and the players. There’s always going to be a level of distrust. . . . At the end of the day, there’s always that level of distrust as to what the owners are telling players, how truthful they’re being, particularly when it comes to revenue in the game. I don’t know if that’s ever going to change.”