Rob Manfred

Rob Manfred explains why he didn't strip Astros' World Series, punish players

Rob Manfred explains why he didn't strip Astros' World Series, punish players

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred defended his punishments for the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal during their World Series-winning 2017 season, and his decision to grant players immunity for cooperating with the league's investigation. 

In an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech that aired Sunday, Manfred explained why he didn't punish Astros players. 

"I understand people's desire to have the players pay a price for what went on here," Manfred said. "I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price. To think they're skipping down the road into spring training, happy, that's just a mischaracterization of where we are.

"Having said that, the desire to have actual discipline imposed on them, I understand it and in a perfect world it would have happened. We ended up where we ended up in pursuit of really, I think, the most important goal of getting the facts and getting them out there for people to know it."

Manfred suspended manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Lunhow for a year without pay. Hours after their suspensions, Astros owner Jim Crane fired Hinch and Lunhow last month. The Astros also lost four MLB draft picks and were fined $5 million. 

While there has been an outcry for harsher punishments, Manfred previously has stated he has no plans of stripping the Astros of their World Series title. He also further explained in his interview with Ravech why there hasn't been punishments handed down on the players. 

Manfred told Ravech that discipline to players likely would have resulted in grievances from the Major League Baseball Players Association. The commissioner cited Luhnow's failure to communicate to the Astros' players the contents of a 2017 memorandum outlining MLB's policy on the use of technology.

"Well, they just didn't do it. It's in my report. The memorandum went to the general manager, and then nothing was done from the GM down," Manfred said. "So we knew if we had disciplined the players in all likelihood we were going to have grievances and grievances that we were going to lose on the basis that we never properly informed them of the rules. Given those two things, No. 1, I knew where, or I'm certain where the responsibilities should lay in the first instance and given the fact we didn't think we could make discipline stick with the players, we made the decision we made.

"Having said that, I understand the reaction. The players, some of them in a more articulate way than others, have said, admitted they did the wrong thing. And I understand that people want to see them punished for that, and in a perfect world, they would have been punished."

Manfred says he understands all the reactions that have come against himself and the Astros alike. Though he won't be punishing players or taking the Astros' title away, Manfred did insist new rules are coming for the 2020 season regarding the usage of technology. 

[RELATED: Fiers says Astros 'cheated as a team' in response to Correa]

"No question we'll have a new policy before the 2020 season," Manfred said. "I don't deny video can help you perform if you have access to it during the game, but a golfer can't come off the sixth and take a look at his swing. ... We're going to have to live with less access to live video in and around the dugout and clubhouse."

Again, this story isn't over. Manfred will address media later Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PT.

Why A's players don't mind trade-offs with extended protective netting

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Why A's players don't mind trade-offs with extended protective netting

OAKLAND -- Back in December, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred declared that all 30 ballparks will extend their existing protective netting in advance of the 2020 season.
 
The movement has its reservations among fans but seems universally supported among players. Even in Oakland, where ample foul ground already buys added insurance.
 
“It will be tougher to interact with the fans, maybe to throw a ball to them,” A's shortstop Marcus Semien said Friday at the team's media day. “I love throwing a baseball to a kid. But, at least they will be safe.”

An NBC News investigation last year found at least 808 reports of fan injuries from baseballs from 2012 through 2019. The total was "based on lawsuits, news reports, social media postings and information from the contractors that provide first aid stations at MLB stadiums."
 
On May 29 in Houston, Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. lined a foul ball that struck a two-year-old girl in the head. Earlier this month, an attorney representing her family told the Houston Chronicle that the girl suffered a permanent brain injury, remains subject to seizures and might need to stay on medication for the rest of her life.
 
“It sucks, and I don’t want to see it anymore,” third baseman Matt Chapman said. “I’ve seen fans looking at their phones, not paying attention. I’ve seen people holding babies and not paying attention.”
 
Chapman understands the inconvenience but predicts eventual workarounds to make sure fans get their access, yet remain protected in critical situations. 

“I don’t understand why fan safety would be a bad thing,” he said.
 
In an era where exit velocities are measured with extreme precision, it’s scary to know that a baseball traveling 100 miles per hour could be headed straight towards someone who might not be able to protect themselves.

Even if they are paying attention to every pitch.
 
“We hit the ball so hard,” Semien said. “And sometimes we’re a little early. Or late. And now that they are up by the dugouts, you just say, 'Thank you the nets are there because that could have been bad.' ”
 
Even pitchers realize the dangers of line drives in foul territory. Starter Mike Fiers spends a lot of time in road dugouts, where he and other players often remark about how close young kids are sitting to the action.
 
“They’re in a bad spot,” Fiers said. “I feel like a lot of people don’t know that. It’s tough when those foul balls go in because everyone always watches and hopes nobody gets hit.”

[RELATED: A's teammates 'respect' Fiers for outing Astros' scandal]
 
As if there weren’t already enough thoughts running through the typical MLB hitter's mind, the concept of additional netting should at least take risk out of the equation. 
 
“No one wants to be that guy who hits a ball in the stands and hits somebody,” A's manager Bob Melvin said. “Our fans are baseball’s lifeline. You have younger kids in there. It’s a nightmare to think about. I think all players are in favor of that.”

Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf confirms A's could relocate to Las Vegas

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Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf confirms A's could relocate to Las Vegas

Many well-known baseball faces filled the Oakland Coliseum on Wednesday for the AL Wild Card Game, including MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

In between signing autographs for fans, there were more pressing issues that the commissioner tackled -- including the future home of the A's.

Manfred reportedly told Oakland officials they need to drop the lawsuit against the A's or there would be a risk that the team relocates to another city, specifically Las Vegas.

Tuesday morning, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf confirmed the report on KTVU:

https://twitter.com/sal_castaneda/status/1181590842022060032

Manfred released a statement on Tuesday regarding what was said. The quote was forwarded to NBC Sports California from the offices of Schaaf:

"In a recent meeting with the Mayor of Oakland, I did mention Las Vegas in the context of pointing out that the A's might have to relocate if a new stadium can't be built in Oakland. There is, however, no plan to move to Las Vegas. If it becomes necessary to consider relocation, there will be a formal process that will consider all potential relocation sites."

The lawsuit against the A's is to stop the development of the 155-acre Coliseum site to help pay for a privately financed ballpark, which has been proposed to be built at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square in Oakland. 

In the suit, the city argues the county violated the Surplus Land Act, which calls for extra land owned by public entities to first be considered for public housing. The city said the county did not negotiate "in good faith" for the required 90-day period. Rather, they skipped it and began working on the deal with the A's. 

Manfred did not appear to be messing around. He made it clear if this wasn't dropped, A's fans could be joining the Raiders and cheering on their beloved teams in Sin City. 

The commissioner hasn't ruled out the possibility of an MLB expansion team moving to Las Vegas. With the success the A's Triple-A affiliate has had in attendance this season after developing their new stadium -- plus legal gambling in the area -- Vegas has become an attractive city to the MLB.

[RELATED: Manfred 'very concerned' over A's stadium lawsuit]

In addition to the Raiders, Oakland already said goodbye to the Warriors, who relocated to San Francisco at the state-of-the-art Chase Center.

This adds yet another hurdle to what was appearing to be promising progress into building a new ballpark for the A's.