How MLB’s Rob Manfred, Angels’ Anthony Rendon have shown need for more self-awareness this offseason

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Welcome to Snyder’s Soapbox! Here I pontificate about a matter related to Major League Baseball on a weekly basis. Some of the topics will be pressing matters, some might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things and most will be somewhere in between. The good thing about this website is it’s free and you are allowed to click away. If you stay, you’ll get smarter, though, that’s a money-back guarantee. Let’s get to it.
I’d like to have a little conversation about self-awareness. It’s a personality trait that I’ve long believed is one of the most underrated. So many people in the public eye lack sufficient self-awareness and this can lead to perception problems. If you can’t understand what I’m talking about just yet (it’s possible you don’t and I realize that, as I’m trying to be self-aware), let me use specific examples to illustrate situations where some self-awareness would’ve benefitted the speaker.
First up, it’s the commish.
Rob Manfred last week was asked about a possible streaming service that involves ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery (and possibly others) and here were his comments, via ESPN’s Jesse Rogers:
“I see that development as a positive. It’s another place that’s going to need to buy rights to make the platform go and compelling … It’s particularly good for us. It’s our three biggest partners.”
I bolded the parts where Mr. Manfred could’ve used some better awareness.
The job of MLB commissioner certainly has many different facets and is a challenging job. I’ve been hard on Manfred in the past, at times, but I’ve also given him his fair share of praise in recent years. This one was a swing-and-a-miss, for me, on the PR front. One aspect of Manfred’s job — I could argue it’s the single most important — is to continue selling the game to as many fans as possible. Even if he doesn’t truly believe everything he’s saying, he absolutely needs the fans to believe he’s always putting their interests first. After all, there is no game without the fans.
In thinking about any sort of media package, how is he not armed and ready to say something like this? “I’m really excited about the possibility of reaching a lot more fans. The fans are the lifeblood of this sport and giving them as many chances as possible to see baseball games is always a positive for us.”
Nah. Instead, Manfred chose to, basically, go with, “this rules because we can sell more rights and make more money!”
Is he wrong? Probably not. He does work for the owners, too, so of course the owners are going to be ecstatic if Manfred is able to sell more rights and make them more money. It’s just a bad look, though, right? Public relations has to be part of Manfred’s job, too. Someone with better self-awareness would’ve realized this was a great opportunity for the sell-job to the masses of fans who might’ve been listening. It’s not like the owners would’ve been angry with Manfred had he put the fans first in his comments.
Plus, there are plenty of fans in recent years who have become disillusioned with the difficulty in finding games when streaming is involved. Perhaps he should have had an answer ready about how they are going to better equip fans to find games via streaming moving forward?
Nah. Let’s just talk about how amazing it is to squeeze more money out of the broadcast partners! I bet the fans will be excited about that!
Tsk, tsk, Commissioner Manfred. More awareness would’ve helped here.
Not that Manfred is alone. He has had company this offseason.
We can go back toward the start of the offseason, for example, and check in with Mariners president Jerry Dipoto.
Remember the 54% thing? That is, Dipoto essentially saying his goal is to build a team that wins 54% of its games, which comes out to an 87-win season. That’s definitely not bad and would make the playoffs these days most of the time, but wouldn’t you want to be building, say, a 100-win team instead — or at least low-to-mid 90s and hope to bypass the Wild Card Series? My colleague Mike Axisa did great work in taking down the misstep by Dipoto at the time, so I’ll avoid rehashing it.
I will say that a little bit better self-awareness would’ve gone a long way, though. How can you not see how that sounded before even saying it? Those comments immediately — even if it wasn’t the goal — sound to fans like you’re saying, “You know what I’d like to do the next five years? Win 87 games every season.”
Yuck. Who would want that GM?
And, again, I know that’s not exactly what Dipoto was saying, but his approach was so bad that’s how the words were going to be taken by a good number of Mariners fans.
Just think it through! Have better self-awareness before speaking!
Let’s close with Anthony Rendon.
Back in the middle of January, the Angels third baseman said this about the length of the MLB season, “We got to shorten the season, man. There’s too many dang games; 162 games and 185 days or whatever it is. Man, no. We got to shorten this bad boy up.”
Now, let’s review a few items here.
First off, Rendon is in the middle of a seven-year, $245 million deal to play baseball for a living. He signed this contract voluntarily and, at the time of said signing, there was no reason to believe the season would be shortened anytime soon. This is to say, he knew what he was signing up for. Also, after playing in 52 of the 60 games in 2020, Rendon played in …
58 games in 2021
47 games in 2022
43 games in 2023
A grand total of 148 games out of a possible 486 (30.4%) in the last three seasons
This isn’t really anything new with Rendon. It’s long been pretty common knowledge he doesn’t seem to really love playing baseball. He once said he wouldn’t mind being an All-Star, if he didn’t have to go to the All-Star Game (and then he made the team and didn’t go). Former teammate Jonathan Papelbon weighed in …
Now, look, there are other ways to spin some of the above. Rendon averaged 146 games a season from 2016-19 and also played in 153 in 2014. He was said to be joking on the All-Star comment and when he missed the 2019 All-Star Game, he was said to be dealing with hamstring and quad injuries. He also did charity work instead of going. And these injuries with the Angels could have been legitimate injuries that would’ve kept anyone off the field.
It’s just, again, a terrible look given all the circumstances. In light of all the missed games the last three seasons while carrying this gaudy salary, he should have realized how atrocious the optics look to complain about how long the season is.
Real talk: No MLB player is required to love baseball. None of them are required to even like baseball. It’s a job. I have no doubt that there are times they don’t want to go to work. It’s no different than pretty much anyone else on the planet. Where the problem arises is the public perception. The reason someone like Rendon can make over $38 million in 2023 (for real, he made almost $1 million per game played and still complained about the season being too long) is because of the fans. Fans who make a ton less money than him and still pour money into the game so players like Rendon can be generationally rich. Further, there are millions upon millions of fans who do love the game and would trade places with Rendon in a heartbeat.
Just don’t make those comments publicly, you know? It isn’t that hard. You get to make an obscene amount of money and while that doesn’t mean you should automatically love the job itself, you can learn to have a little bit better self-awareness and just shut up, especially publicly. It’s not like Rendon is one of those people who doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him. Remember, he went after a fan on opening day last season for calling him a name that would suggest he sits out far too often.
All I’m saying is that the public presentation could use some work. No fan wants to hear, from any player, that they don’t like showing up to play baseball for millions of dollars. It gives other players a bad name and there are plenty who actually do love showing up for work every single day. Or, and this is of the utmost importance here, at least that’s how it looks. Maybe they just have better self-awareness than Anthony Rendon.
Now, it’s tough to achieve full-on self-awareness in general. So few people ever get there. I often think about it myself and while I believe I exercise self-awareness a good portion of the time, I also realize a few things that I’ve come to believe are truths in life:
Everyone has at least one blind spot and most have many more.
True self-awareness is knowing that you’re probably not fully aware of everything (so it’s a paradox!).
So, yeah, I don’t think I’m perfect here. Far from it. Hell, in this entire column I might be exposing a blind spot of my own somewhere. I own that possibility.
Still, we can strive to be as close as fully aware as possible everyday. I try. I fail at times, but everyone is a work in progress. Here’s hoping the likes of Manfred, Dipoto and Rendon learn from their offseasons while the rest of us find ways to not repeat their failures in awareness.

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