Rob Manfred Deserves Credit for Pulling Off the MLB Season

One of the most important parts of the job for professional sports commissioners, if not the most important part, is to embody a meat shield that absorbs the criticism that would otherwise be directed at the owners who pay their salaries. You rarely see anything positive said about any commissioner besides Adam Silver. However, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, who got showered with boos during the trophy presentation in Arlington on Tuesday, deserves a lot of credit for steering Major League Baseball through the pandemic and completing the season.

It feels like a lot longer than a few months ago, but in early August several Marlins players tested positive for COVID-19. Soon, some Cardinals did as well. Twitter became a non-stop progression of media members with blue checkmarks demanding that baseball be shut down. It was impossible to operate sports outside a bubble. Even Manfred himself warned that the sport might be shut down.

But, miraculously, the positive tests ceased. Until Justin Turner tested positive during Game 6 of the World Series, MLB had a 57-day COVID-free streak going. Turner's positive test and subsequent celebration marred the end of the World Series for many people, and we all hope to avoid news of a new outbreak amongst the Rays, Dodgers, and the Dodgers' family members who also celebrated on the field. MLB has said that Turner refused to comply with directions from MLB security to leave the celebration.

Manfred took a lot of heat from a lot of people, myself included, in the lead-up to a season that also could've been squandered over money squabbles between players and owners. The commissioner not only deserves credit for getting the season off the ground, but for implementing creative solutions like the seven-inning doubleheaders to fight through the myriad postponed games.


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Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.