Fire Manfred and return the All-Star Game to Atlanta
If Major League Baseball team-owners don't act fast, the MLB will experience a hemorrhaging of fans that might damage the pro game for years. The way to repair the damage is to fire Commissioner Rob Manfred and return the All-Star Game to Atlanta this summer.
An April 7 report from Fox News (via Becker News) says Manfred decided to pull the game from Atlanta after consulting with Stacey Abrams and a voting rights group associated with LeBron James and the always sketchy Al Sharpton. The timing of Manfred's decision caught owners off-guard, reports Fox.
Manfred's decision should not only incense team-owners, but serve as grounds to dump the commissioner. The economic damage being done to Atlanta metro businesses — Atlanta small businesses are 30% minority-owned — and hourly wage workers, who include plenty of blacks and Hispanics, is considerable and a black eye on the game. That black eye isn't going away without remedial action.
Manfred's actions are also going to hit owners where they hurt most: their wallets.
Yes, teams' TV revenues are contractually locked in, so revenues will come. But MLB-branded merchandise sales aren't automatic. Fans can simply stop buying any merchandise licensed by Major League Baseball. That hurts teams and its partners, who produce everything from apparel to gear to bobble heads.
And fans don't have to attend games. COVID restrictions may limit attendance at venues now, but as those restrictions are lifted, teams will want to fill seats. Concessions and at-game merchandise sales are important revenue streams. Baseball fans can easily stay away from America's summer pastime. Many pro football and basketball fans do that now in those sports.
Oh, the Atlanta Braves–owner (communications titan Liberty Media) has to be seeing red. Manfred's high-handedness puts the Braves dead center in the growing storm. Some Atlanta fans are already demanding Braves season ticket refunds.
To top things off, former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent, for the Wall Street Journal, penned a stinging rebuke of Manfred for his incredibly imperious decision.
Jeffrey Lord summarizes Vincent's points. Here are highlights:
- Manfred "didn't limit the number of home games the Atlanta Braves will play." Why asks Vincent? Because to do so would involve taking on the players union and an owner, in this case Braves owner John Malone. Both definite no-no's in the world of baseball.
- "The only people hurt by Mr. Manfred's decision will be Atlanta's stadium workers and local vendors."
- Vincent accuses his successor of making baseball "a weapon in the culture wars." [snip]
- Vincent closed by saying that Manfred had plunged baseball into "politics and its dark elements of corruption, greed and sordid selfishness."
The best crisis management in the world won't stop the bleeding and repair the damage wrought by Rob Manfred. Toughing out the crisis and hoping it blows over is a roll of the dice.
Team-owners will make a huge miscalculation by circling the wagons around their reckless commissioner. And throwing bones to Atlanta businesses and workers will be seen for what it is: condescending and insufficient. Manfred needs to go and his toxic decision repealed.
If Manfred has integrity, he'll resign his job. Knuckling under to the Biden administration and trying to placate the likes of Al Sharpton are losing propositions. It's going to prove bad for business. Owners had better care more about their customers.
The MLB should appoint an interim commissioner — say, Fay Vincent for a brief reprise — who would acknowledge the fault and announce the return of the All-Star Game to Atlanta this summer.
But time is of the essence. The longer this sorry drama plays, the harder it'll be to fix the problem. Do MLB team-owners have the courage and resolve to get it done?
J. Robert Smith can be found on Parler @JRobertSmith and at Gab, again @JRobertSmith. He also blogs at Flyover.
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