Rob Manfred didn't love Trevor Bauer calling him "a clown," but the MLB commissioner and the Extremely Online Cincinnati Reds pitcher agree on one thing.
“Mike Fiers, in my view, did the industry a service,” Manfred told ESPN's Karl Ravech in a sit-down interview released Sunday (H/T New York Post). “He opened the door here. Without that opening of the door, we would not have been able to conduct the effective investigation that we did. We would not have been able to impose the disciplines that were imposed. We would not have been able to probably take the prophylactic measures that we’re gonna take with respect to 2020, and it’s important -- painful, but important -- that we clean all that up.”
Fiers told The Athletic in November that the Astros used a camera in center field to record and steal opposing catchers' signs en route to Houston's 2017 World Series title. Those signs would then be relayed to an Astros batter when his teammates or team employees banged on a garbage can.
The Astros acquired Fiers in a midseason trade that year, and he signed with the Detroit Tigers the following offseason. Fiers told the Tigers about the scheme and later told the A's following a 2018 trade to Oakland.
Fiers faced criticism from some in baseball, including television analysts Jessica Mendoza and Pedro Martinez, for whistleblowing and breaking what Manfred referred to as the "cone of silence" coming from the clubhouse. Carlos Correa, Fiers' former Astros teammate, said the pitcher should be "man enough" to clear Jose Altuve of the spreading insinuation his 2017 AL MVP was tainted by Houston's cheating.
The pitcher didn't say that Altuve was when he first revealed the scheme to The Athletic back in November, and he told the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser on Sunday that the Astros "cheated as a team" in 2017.
Fiers will see his former teammates for the first time since going public when the Astros visit the A's in Oakland on March 30. The A's, then, will first play in Houston on April 24.
Don't bet on the fans at Minute Maid Park being as understanding as their Coliseum counterparts or the commissioner.