Rob Manfred insists MLB will go on: 'We are playing, the players need to be better'

Jason Owens

Commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly warned on Friday that the MLB season could be shut down as soon as Monday if baseball doesn’t get its COVID-19 outbreak under control.

Since then, the outbreak has spread and multiple players have decided that playing baseball this year isn’t a good idea. The schedule has been blown up, including Saturday’s game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers being called off.

Now Manfred is insisting that the season will go on. And he’s blaming the players for the game’s COVID-19 problems. He told ESPN’s Karl Ravech on Saturday the he is “not a quitter.”

‘We are playing’

“We are playing,” Manfred told Ravech. “The players need to be better, but I am not a quitter in general, and there is no reason to quit now.

“We have to be fluid, but it is manageable.”

Manfred spoke later with the Associated Press and expanded on his statement to Ravech.

He reiterated that he’s planning for the season to go on even if every team can’t play 60 games. In that instance, he suggested that winning percentage could determine playoff positioning.

He also continued to place the bulk of the responsibility for COVID-19 safety upon the players.

‘We’ve had some problems’

“It is what the public health experts have been saying from the beginning about this, that there is no one big magic fix,” Manfred told AP. “The protocols are a series of little things that people need to do.

“We’ve had some problems. In order to be better, it’s another series of little things. I think it’s peer pressure. I think it’s players taking personal responsibility. I think it’s the union helping us like Tony Clark helped us yesterday. And I think it’s us managing more aggressively.”

Rob Manfred is not a quitter. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Rob Manfred is not a quitter. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Manfred passing the buck to players

Manfred’s not wrong in proclaiming that players need to do better. Marlins players reportedly going out for drinks before unleashing a COVID-19 outbreak on MLB is not great.

But this is coming from the same commissioner who spent a large portion of the COVID-19 hiatus bickering with players over contract issues.

This is the same commissioner who in the 11th hour before the season started was focused on expanding the playoffs.

This is the same commissioner who oversaw a decision for baseball to not play in a bubble after the idea was first floated in MLB.

And now less than a week into his sport’s season, MLB is canceling games and scrambling to try to control a virus that refuses to be controlled. While MLB’s teams travel to and from COVID-19 hotspots Miami, Houston and Phoenix, the NBA is playing in a COVID-free bubble in a season that’s resumed without a hitch.

This isn’t to say the NBA’s plan is perfect or won’t run into its own COVID-19 emergencies. The October NBA Finals are a long way off.

But the NBA clearly entered its season of COVID-19 play a lot better prepared the MLB.

But Manfred’s not a quitter. And neither is MLB, apparently. The players just need to be better.

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