‘Explicitly’ is hardly the first word one uses to describe Rod Carew. Quiet speech may be more accurate. But on the night of July 24, at a special dinner for the Hall of Famers after the induction party in Cooperstown, all that changed.
Caro, 76, was among the Hall of Famers who faced off MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on the state of the game. By his own admission, he started the conversation “pretty much” and was “one of the loudest voices in the room.”
How do we know?
Because Carew wrote a The harsh reckoning of dinner On August 10, he said in his weekly online newsletter that Manfred was uncomfortable with the discussion and “looked as if he wished there was a trap door he could escape from.”
“He tried to talk to us kindly,” said Caro.
The Four Hall of Famers confirmed that the exchange with Manfred was controversial. Several people declined to comment, citing the old club credo, “What you say here, what you see here, make sure that when you leave here stays here.” Manfred, who has spoken at the dinner and given gifts to the new Hall of Famers every year since becoming commissioner in 2015, said there was a clear understanding among participants that the conversations would remain confidential, and excluded Carew’s announcement to the public.
“The idea that someone is talking about it in the detail that Rudd elected to be is completely inappropriate,” Manfred said. “It is not a single person’s business to decide that an assumption that the group has been holding for years, can explode on their own.”
Caro, in his 678-word essay, acknowledged that dinner is “usually one of the times when ‘what happens in the room stays in the room.'” But in a phone interview, he said he was disturbed by the changes taking place in sports and his perception that Manfred does not He wants advice from former players.’He’s really trying to defend the sport he loves,’ added Devon, 33-year-old Caro’s son, who accompanied him to Cooperstown. He feels like baseball is changing for the worse, and if he can stop, he’s willing to speak up, even if he normally wouldn’t.”
Senior Father Karo, who was elected into the hall in 1991 and now works as a team special assistant . said twins.
“I don’t think he expected us to talk about it. But we’re all interested in the game and what’s going on in it. We’re trying to figure out if he’s going to talk to us about it. In a roundabout way, he did. But I think a lot of guys weren’t satisfied so they kept asking him questions. “.
Carew and other Hall of Famers, who have expressed frustration shared by many currently in the game, say the analytics are detrimental to the sport and negatively impacting the way players perform. Manfred does not argue this point, saying, “Analytics had a detrimental effect on the way the game is played on the field.”
In January 2021, he previously hired Manfred red socks And the Cubs CEO Theo Epstein as a consultant to help bring back what Epstein calls “the best form of baseball.” The new collective bargaining agreement created a joint competition committee that is currently working on rule changes for 2023, including restrictions on defense shifts that will address one of Carew’s main complaints.
For Caro and others, improvements cannot come fast enough. Caro said he used to watch six to eight matches a day. Now he watches only the twins, for whom he works.
“I am interested in the game. I am interested in children reading,” said Caro. “They do not allow these children to use the sixth tool, which is their brain. Think instead of trying to do everything someone else says. Baseball has never been this way before.”
Some who knew Caro found it disturbing to see him lead the attack against Manfred at Cooperstown; A Hall of Famer family member, who asked not to be identified, said he was “shocked” at how strong Caro was at dinner. But Burt Plevin, a fellow Carew’s with the Twins from 1970 to 1975 and a Hall of Famer since 2011, speculated that Carew’s new voice may stem from a series of health concerns he has had in the previous decade.
During the 15-month period in 2015-2016, Caro survived a massive heart attack and three surgeries Six-hour open heart surgery to insert a left ventricular assist device (LVAD); A procedure to drain two sessions of blood in his brain, and a heart and kidney transplant that took 13 hours to complete.
“Rod is coming out of his shell a little bit. He’s been through a lot in his life,” said Plelevyn, who, like Caro, is a special assistant to the twins. “But he loves baseball as much as anyone else. He got to a point where he thought something needed to be said.”
Devon Carew was by his father’s side all weekend in Cooperstown. When Rudd renewed his acquaintance with his fellow Hall of Famers, he would ask them what they thought of the state of the game. Devon said the discussions were often “fiery.”
“This is the first year I’ve felt that a lot of Hall of Famers were really angry, not just upset with the direction of the game, but more passionate than ever,” Devon said. “I know my dad has said they’ve had discussions before at a post-induction dinner. But I think this was a particularly cross.”
Accounts of the exchanges between the Hall of Famers and Manfred at the dinner differ.
Jim Cat, a new Hall of Fame and Carew’s co-star with twins from 1967 to 1973, didn’t find the discussion overly raging. Despite this, Plelevyn noted that he was more lively than usual, saying of Manfred, “I don’t think he knows exactly how to answer everyone. With everyone talking, he didn’t get much opportunity to answer.”
While the conversation fell short of controversy, Andre Dawson, a member of the Hall of Famer since 2010, said, “There was a sense of urgency. It kind of got a lot of voices going back and forth.”
Dawson said the event often amounts to a catharsis session.
“Every year the commissioner comes in, the group basically wants to express their opinions,” said Dawson, who is now an ambassador for the Cubs. “It’s usually about the country and the direction of the game. They just want to get clarification. It’s funny how the commissioner usually seems so uncomfortable, like he knows what’s coming. That’s kind of the fun part about it.”
“I read Rod’s article. He pretty much nailed it to the head. It sounded like (Manfred thought), ‘Hey, I need to finish this and get out of here ASAP because it’s heading in a direction that doesn’t look pretty.'” That’s kind of the way it was over the past two years.”
Objections raised by the Hall of Famers include higher defensive shifts and offensive focus on the launch angle, as well as rule changes such as minimum three strikes and automatic second base sprinting in overtime innings. Their regrets sometimes drift to “get out of my lawn land,” and Kat said some of them don’t understand the ubiquity of analytics and Manfred’s limited ability to effect change.
cat from recently retired from broadcasting After nearly 40 years of contact with toys Yankeesand Twins, MLB Network and other national media outlets, he said the group on his table included Manfred and two current broadcasters – Mike Schmidt, who works for Phyllisand John Smoltz, who works for Fox. Kaat, from his recent in-game involvement, shares a point of view with these two Hall of Famers. While they do not necessarily like the direction of sports, they are aware of the role that analytics plays.
Kat said Manfred talked about managing analytics rather than removing it.
“A lot of these guys just don’t understand that analytics is here to stay,” Kat said, referring to fellow Hall of Famers. “I said, ‘We have to find a way to keep the analytics in the front office and shut down the computers and notebooks and let the players play during the match.
“That, for me, is the real challenge. That’s basically what Rob was saying when he said we have to learn how to manage analytics.”
Manfred said he wouldn’t put himself in the same category as Caro by looking at what was said at dinner. But he gave a detailed description of his position on analytics, saying that his private and public versions are no different.
“No. 1: Analytics had a detrimental effect on the way the game is played on the field,” Manfred said.
No. 2: Analytics won’t stop because clubs rightly believe that analytics can be used to help them win more games, which is what they care about most.
“No. 3: No matter who you are, how effective you are, and what your strength is, you can’t get rid of analytics by command. It’s like telling people what they can and can’t think of.”
No. 4: All true, the way forward to get to what Theo often refers to as “the best form of baseball” is to change the infrastructure, the rules by which the clubs operate, in order to get the clubs to put value on things lost from the game.
Which is where the new competition commission enters the picture.
The committee, made up of four active players, six members appointed by Major League Baseball and one referee, was originally scheduled to Vote for rule changes by last Friday. But the parties Deadline extended They continued to work toward consensus-based change.
It is possible that Manfred was reluctant to share details on many of the issues raised by the Hall of Famers, preferring to allow the committee to work toward solutions. His view of “not getting rid of analytics” may have been misinterpreted by Caro and others as an admission that he is unable to cope with the game’s problems.
“Manfred is trying to give the feeling that it is not his fault. Well, then – who is this for?” Caro wrote in his article. “If the commissioner of baseball didn’t have the last word, nobody would. I think what he’s saying is that he, Rob Manfred, is helpless.”
Manfred disagrees, saying that the first changes expected by the committee – pitch hours and restrictions on defensive shifts, starting next season – will create a widespread positive impact on the game.
“Everyone thinks that the pitch clock is about the speed of the match. It’s not just about that. It’s also about the clock’s effect on the bowler’s ability to give maximum effort with each step. Because of that effect, it changes the way the game is played,” Manfred said.
“Same in terms of turning. If you don’t have a player short (in the right field) on a left-handed hitter, this left-handed hitter might decide that I don’t need to go over the top, all I have to do is get a base hit. These changes will change what you put in Clubs are valuable, and it will change the game. I know it’s more complex and indirect than saying ‘I’m going to block analytics,’ but it has to be more involved and indirect because you can’t ban analytics.”
If the initial batch of mods put the game on a path back to “the best form of baseball,” disgruntled Hall of Famers might have less combat at future dinner parties with Manfred. Karo is open to changing his mind as events dictate. Just this week, he responded to news of owner Arte Moreno’s planned sale Angelsone of his former clubs, by saying on twitter“Well, this is happy news. I have renewed hope of fully restoring my relationship with the Organization of Angels.”
For now, though, Caro’s anger at Manfred and the state of the game is real. He said he’s not alone in his opinions among the Hall of Famers.
“I know the world is evolving,” he wrote. “Baseball in 2022 shouldn’t look like it did from 1967 to 1985, when I was playing, or even from 1992 to 2001 when I was training.
“But we need to make sure that this different version is also better. Because I don’t think so. And many of the 50-person Hall of Famers in that room with the commissioner agree with me.”
(Top photo of Rod Carew and Rob Manfred in 2016: Andy Haight/Getty Images)