Saturday October 24th, 2020 9:49PM

AP Interview: Manfred: `We owe it to our fans to be better'

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — Rob Manfred knows many fans were angered by the financial fight between Major League Baseball and the players’ association during a pandemic.

“We need to get back on the field, and we need to in a less-charged environment start to have conversations about how we — and the we in that sentence is the commissioner’s office, my staff, the clubs and the MLBPA and the players — can be better going forward,” he said Wednesday during an interview with The Associated Press. “We owe it to our fans to be better than we’ve been the last three months.”

Spring training was cut short by the novel coronavirus on March 12. The sides reached an initial agreement on March 26, which was to have been opening day. That deal called for players to receive prorated salaries, get $170 million in advances and receive a guarantee of service time in the event no games were played this year.

When it became clear the only way to start the season was to play in empty ballparks, the sides battled publicly over what the agreement meant.

Owners said players needed to accept additional cuts and proposed an 82-game schedule starting around the Fourth of July. Players argued they shouldn’t have to accept less than the original deal called for. But that agreement didn’t bind Manfred to start the season with no gate revenue.

Vitriol rose in baseball’s worst infighting since the 7 1/2-month strike of 1994-95 wiped out the World Series for the first time in nine decades. The union rejected the last proposal for a financial agreement, then finished protocols to play in the pandemic on Tuesday and promised players will start reporting July 1 for a 60-game season scheduled to start July 23 or 24, MLB's briefest since 1878.

“The focus here was on a day’s wage for a day’s worth of work,” union head Tony Clark said during a separate interview with the AP. “That’s what we believed was fair, and that’s why we maintained the position that we did.”

In the view of many, the outcome left losers on both sides. MLB already has experienced four straight seasons of declining average attendance.

“In my opinion, it’s a damn shame that the ramifications of this are going to be felt for a long time,” said Cincinnati catcher Tucker Barnhart, the Reds’ player representative. “I grew up a baseball fan, I’m a baseball fan first, and I think it sucks that it’s had to go on the way that it is. But I hope that getting out and playing will kind of mask some of the bruises that the game as a whole has taken over the last few months.”

MLB intends to start without fans in ballparks, even in places where government and medical officials allow some spectators.

“I think we need to get on the ground running and get comfortable that we can play games in empty stadiums safely before we move forward with fans,” Manfred said. “My patience in that regard is in part based on the fact that there are so many different situations. Some places there looks like there’s no prospect, other places they’re more aggressive. I think we need to be patient and even where we have the option, we need to make sure that we know exactly what we’re doing before we jump into it.”

Owners decided to go ahead with a season despite the threat of a grievance from the union, which has claimed MLB did not adhere to provisions in the March 26 agreement requiring the longest schedule economically feasible. That deal also included additional provisions such as fans being allowed into all 30 ballparks and no relevant travel restrictions.

“Every time you make a decision like this, you balance risk and reward,” Manfred said. “I think the clubs felt that the most important objective was to get the game back on the field, and because that was the most important objective, they were prepared to bear whatever risk was associated with a grievance that is — let me be really clear about this: utterly without merit.”

Clark would not directly respond when asked whether lasting damage had been inflicted.

“I think there is an opportunity to move forward, move our game forward,” he said. “And as it relates to the atmosphere in general, the lines of communication remain open, and we’ll count that as a positive in the days ahead. ”

Because there was no financial agreement, the postseason is slated to remain at 10 teams rather than expand to 16. MLB could attempt to make another proposal for a larger postseason.

“I would simply say that if there’s interest to discuss something, I’ll be available to discuss it,” Clark said.

He maintained the decision by the executive board to reject the last plan Monday was not a choice of a grievance over a deal.

“The grievance was not the focus, never has been the focus,” he said. “The goal, and that’s why we sent across proposals, was to attempt to find common ground on an agreement. We simply were unable to do so.”

He would not address last week's one-on-one meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, which Manfred said produced a framework for a deal and Clark called merely a management proposal. Manfred has maintained Clark promised to try to persuade players to accept it, then said a few hours later he could not get their support.

“Rob can focus on his side and I’ll focus on mine,” Clark said.

Clark defended the union's decision not to accept MLB's offer to eliminate free-agent compensation, which could hurt several players' value next offseason.

“It was associated with significant salary cuts,” he said.

As baseball prepares to resume, Manfred and his staff have watched European soccer leagues carry on with closed-door matches.

“We normally think about our product as two products, the live product and the broadcast product,” he said. “Given our current situation, I think that the goal is to make the broadcast product, because it’s the only one we have, as entertaining for fans as we possibly can. We’re working closely with the RSNs and our national partners in an effort to give the game a zeal that will be satisfying to our fans without having the normal crowd noise and excitement that’s created by that environment.”

Broadcasts possibly may contain artificial crowd noise.

“We’re still making decisions about that,” he said. “I like what they’ve done in England and Germany because I think it’s innovative and I think that the current situation calls for us to try some things that are different.”


AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this report.


More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Baseball , AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Sports - Major League Baseball
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
AP interview: Manfred: `We owe it to our fans to be better'
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred knows many fans were angered by the financial fight between Major League Baseball and the players’ association during a pandemic
8:26PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Fireworks are booming before July 4, but why the ruckus?
Fireworks are a symbol of celebration, but they're not being saved for Fourth of July festivities in the U.S. Nightly blasts from Connecticut to California have angered residents and alarmed officials
8:23PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Slavery advocate's statue removed in South Carolina
The historic South Carolina city of Charleston has removed a statue honoring John C
8:18PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Baseball scrambles back into action amid lingering concerns
As baseball scrambles to start an abbreviated season, the prevailing mood is one of nervous excitement
7:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Apple re-closes 7 Houston stores as virus surges
Apple has decided to re-close seven of its recently reopened stores in the Houston area because of COVID-19 problems in Texas
6:50PM ( 1 hour ago )
5 players withdraw, 1 tests positive, nerves frayed on virus
Three weeks into its return to competitive golf, the PGA Tour is on notice
6:19PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
The Latest: N.C. orders face coverings in close quarters
North Carolina’s governor has issued an executive order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
4:26PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Several Seattle Mariners players test positive
Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said a few players have tested positive for COVID-19
4:26PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Source: Several Blue Jays, staff test positive
A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that several players and staff members of the Toronto Blue Jays have tested positive for the coronavirus
4:17PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Baseball
'Coming back and biting us': US sees virus resurgence
A coronavirus resurgence is wiping out two months of progress in the U.S. and sending infections to dire new levels in the South and West
7:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
California voters to decide fate of affirmative action ban
California voters will decide in November whether governments and public colleges and universities can consider race in their hiring and admissions decisions
7:08PM ( 1 hour ago )
Wisconsin governor activates National Guard after violence
Wisconsin’s governor has activated the National Guard to protect state properties after a night of violence that included the toppling of two statues outside the state Capitol and an attack on a state senator
6:55PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Georgia measure would stop officials mailing ballot requests
Republicans controlling a Georgia House committee have approved a bill to prevent election officials from proactively sending mail ballot request forms to voters ahead of an election
5:27PM ( 3 hours ago )
Bayer paying up to $10.9B to settle Monsanto weedkiller case
German pharma giant Bayer says it’s paying up to $10.9 billion to settle litigation over subsidiary Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup
5:07PM ( 3 hours ago )
Stocks slide on Wall Street as new coronavirus cases surge
Stocks slumped on Wall Street after new coronavirus cases in the U.S. hit their highest level in two months, renewing worries that the economy may take longer to bounce back than investors had hoped
4:39PM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
GNC files for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection, Ugg in demand
Health and wellness company GNC Holdings has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
7:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
Report: State, local aid needed to avert 4 million layoffs
A new private sector report is warning anew of continuing damage to the economy if Washington doesn’t deliver several hundred billion dollars in budget relief to states and local governments
6:37PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump: Poland to get some US troops withdrawn from Germany
President Donald Trump says some of the 10,000 American troops he’s pulling out of Germany will be moved to Poland on NATO’s eastern flank against Russian aggression
6:07PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
The Latest: Slovenia reinstates mandatory use of face masks
Slovenia’s government has reintroduced mandatory use of face masks in closed public spaces and on public transport after a spike in cases of the coronavirus in recent days
11:47AM ( 8 hours ago )
Baseball's back: MLB sets 60-game sked, opens July 23 or 24
Major League Baseball has issued a 60-game schedule that will start July 23 or 24 in empty ballparks as the sport tries to push ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic following months of acrimony
11:16AM ( 9 hours ago )
The Latest: Americas behind new virus clusters in Spain
Imported coronavirus cases from the Americas are behind a series of new clusters in Spain
10:13AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Sports - Major League Baseball
Fireworks are booming before July 4, but why the ruckus?
Fireworks are a symbol of celebration, but they're not being saved for Fourth of July festivities in the U.S. Nightly blasts from Connecticut to California have angered residents and alarmed officials
8:23PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Slavery advocate's statue removed in South Carolina
The historic South Carolina city of Charleston has removed a statue honoring John C
8:18PM ( 13 minutes ago )
DA: Walmart mass shooting suspect will face new charges
Prosecutors say the man accused of killing 22 people and wounding two dozen more at a Walmart in Texas is expected to be reindicted Thursday as he faces another murder charge in the mass shooting that targeted Mexicans
8:14PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Pacers' Brogdon, Kings' Parker reveal they have virus
The return of Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon has been delayed after he tested positive for the coronavirus
7:54PM ( 37 minutes ago )
The Latest: 3 Northeast states install travel restrictions
Three Northeast governors are installing restrictions on travelers from states with increasing COVID-19 cases
7:42PM ( 49 minutes ago )