MLB Notebook: Manfred’s sour grapes and Joey Votto’s return
Photo credit:© Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK
By Michael Liu3 months ago
Welcome back to MLB Notebook, brought to you by The Batter’s Box Podcast! In this column, we’ll examine news and notes from around Major League Baseball — oftentimes through a Toronto Blue Jays-tinted lens.
Manfred speaks out on Athletics’ reverse boycott
Rob Manfred couldn’t have made himself any more unlikeable. With the MLB commissioner determined to help bulldoze the Athletics out of Oakland, his comments on the reverse boycott the fans staged last Tuesday come off as tone-deaf and passive-aggressive.
“It was great,” Manfred said. “It’s great to see what is this year almost an average Major League Baseball crowd in the facility for one night. That’s a great thing.”
Not only did he throw shade on an already suffering fanbase, but Manfred went further to mischaracterize the entire situation while trying to push back against peer-reviewed studies on the economic losses a new stadium being built would generate. Even with plenty of real examples with subsidies and grants applied as well as increased taxes, it appears the commissioner is determined to bury his head in the sand.
“I love academics; they’re great,” Manfred said. “Take the areas where baseball stadiums had been built, OK? Look at what was around Truist Park before that was built. Look at the area around Nationals Park before that was built. I lived in that city. Academics can say whatever they want. I think the reality tells you something else.”
The full Q&A session is something to behold, and you can read it in the tweet above. For a man who thinks he is God’s gift to baseball, Manfred is really not making himself look the part.
AL Central continues to be terrible, and the NL East keeps getting hotter
It was hard to see this division get any worse than it already was, but with the Twins losing last night against the Red Sox, it meant that every single team in the AL Central was below .500. There’s setting records for ineptitude and then there’s this division-wide slumping beyond any belief.
For context, the division-leading Twins would be last in any of the AL East and AL West, with the obvious exception of the Athletics dragging behind the pack. They would fare a little better in the NL divisions but are on a skid of a run that doesn’t look like it will be snapped any time soon. With only 5.5 games separating the first-place team and the fourth-place team, eyes will be on the AL Central to see which team can suck the least and secure themselves a spot in the postseason.
On the flip side, there might not be a hotter division in baseball than the NL East. The Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, and Philidelphia Phillies are sporting 5+ game win streaks, pacing themselves ahead of the pack. It’s so bad that the Phillies went 13-2 since June 2nd, yet still find themselves 8 games back of the Braves for the division lead.
The Marlins are putting together a red-hot run as of late which also included an 11-0 thumping of the Blue Jays last night. Luis Arraez got himself back up to a .400 batting average while recording his 3rd 5-hit game of the season. It’s not been an ideal run for Toronto as of late and this game won’t help matters much, as the team looks to get themselves back on track before they have the movie postponed yet another year.
Red-hot Reds and the return of Joey Votto
Speaking of hot teams, there’s no team hotter than the Cincinnati Reds. They are 9-1 in their last 10 games, sporting a 9-game win streak that’s catapulted them past the slumping Milwaukee Brewers into first in the NL Central. After a 2022 season that just never seemed to take off, the Reds are getting the perfect blend of production from their established stars and rising young rookies. It’s the perfect combination that’s spurred them on to new heights this year.
The highlight of their matchup against the Colorado Rockies was the return of Joey Votto to the lineup. After spending 10 months on the sidelines recuperating from rotator cuff surgery, the 38-year-old Canadian returned to the lineup as further reinforcement for Cincinnati with his offense-laden bat. Of course, he didn’t waste much time making his mark in his return.
Votto finished the game going 2/3 with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R and 1 BB. He’s looked reinvigorated and much more like the Votto of old, which is great news if you’re a Reds fan. His comments prior to the game are worth a listen to, something that we discussed on this episode of the Batter’s Box along with the San Diego Padres’ meltdown, available now on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
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