The league is wrapped up in a huge cheating scandal.
The commissioner and those involved are being lit up on social media for the way they’ve handled it.
Proposed rule changes that are being absolutely roasted by the public and players have been leaked.
And this has been the most positive off season for the MLB in recent memory.
I’ll spare you of a complete recap of the Astros scandal, which has been covered extensively everywhere on the internet. It’s the biggest scandal in baseball since the Steroid Era, and is possibly worse. The punishments have not fit the crimes, in the eye of the general public (and many non-Astros players). The players have not expressed enough remorse for anyone’s satisfaction. It’s a huge mess, any way you look at it.
And then the commissioner poured a bunch of jet fuel on the dumpster fire by making comments on the situation that ranged from flippant to arrogant. He also suggested that players would be punished for throwing at Astros’ batters, which may be a fair thing, but rings hollow when the Houston players themselves have not been punished whatsoever.
While all this scandal is going on, some proposed changes to the MLB playoff structure came out, and were promptly torn apart on the internet. The proposed changes were bad enough that Rob Manfred made Trevor Bauer look like a sane person (seriously, no matter how you feel about him, watch the video below).
Despite all of this, I’d argue this may be the most positive MLB off season in recent memory. The MLB has been a large part of daily sports conversation for the whole off season. This is the case for the NFL and NBA regularly, but not so for the MLB.
This winter, unlike the past few, the free agency hot stove stayed hot from the start of free agency until the beginning of spring training. Veteran players were getting paid at a fair rate the entire off season, instead of the depressed salaries and slow movement we’ve been getting used to lately.
The Astros scandal has kept baseball trending on social media all winter, as more details came out slowly over the course of the off season. Everyone was playing sleuth and reacting to the details. Ever since punishments came down, people have been ranting and reacting to the punishments (or lack of). Players of other teams have been giving their two cents and now, finally, the participants have been making statements. These statements have been generating even more conversation online. Commissioner Manfred’s comments on the scandal from the other day had #FireManfred as one of the worldwide top trending hashtags on Twitter.
Now, if the MLB would just take a page out of the NBA’s book and allow highlight clips to be tweeted out by the general public instantaneously, they could have this kind of social media engagement around the clock for the whole season. While the Astros scandal is undoubtedly a black mark on baseball’s history, it has drawn more attention to baseball during the MLB’s normal down-time than it has gotten in years. This, paired with the fact that veteran players actually got paid their worth (or more) this winter, leads me to the conclusion that this has been the best off season in awhile for the MLB. As the old proverb goes, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”