Baltimore Orioles’ fans and fans of other teams across the league are increasingly more angry at MLB commissioner Rob Manfred regarding the Houston Astros’ cheating scandale. Many people are saying that the players should be punished for their transgressions. They’re right about that – but so is the commissioner in terms of how this was handled.
The players should absolutely face discipline. However while this hasn’t been confirmed, it’s presumed that all 69 players that were interviewed were granted immunity by Commissioner Manfred. Again this is assumed, however if immunity was granted one would be led to believe that it was done in writing.
So given the outrage that exists, if Commissioner Manfred went back on his word and issued discipline to players, he would be putting the league at legal risk. And it would be an open-and-shut case. So then people demand to know why immunity was granted in the first place. The answer is fairly easy…
…the league would have never cracked the case the way that it did had there been no testimony from players. And the only way the commissioner could get the players to talk was through a promise of immunity. It’s all very much a Catch-22 in a sense.
But there’s another reason that giving immunity to the players was the right thing to do. Commissioner Manfred undoubtedly saw how things spiraled out of control during the NFL’s Bountygate scandal. Suspending the coaches and executives involved isn’t privy to an appeal. When NFL players were suspended for their roles in that scandal, the union got involved and it turned into a mess.
So the immunity situation aside, Manfred didn’t want to be in a situation where he was suspending multiple players and having the MLBPA get involved in appeals among other things. They want this to go away, as well they should.
Again, Commissioner Manfred would be putting the league at legal risk if he disciplined the players at this point. Now the is an exception to this. If new evidence were to come out, or if a player or players were found to have lied, one could then argue the immunity was null and void. However as it stands now, this is just something with which fans will have to deal and accept.