Rob Manfred has let baseball fans down, and Thursday's comments by Houston Astros players should be the last straw.
Yes, Manfred was dealt a tough hand with the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, but a man in his position, making his salary, was appointed to handle these exact kinds of situations with the utmost professionalism and decisiveness.
The Astros' cheating scandal did not just taint a World Series; It perhaps threw an entire MLB season into question, deprived dozens of players from fair competition and devalued the product that baseball fans pay to see.
Yet, the course of action that Manfred finds appropriate in the wake of the scandal is simply to deal out one-year suspensions to two individuals involved, and perhaps one more once the Red Sox portion of the investigation wraps. Zero active players have been punished. Carlos Beltran has not been punished, other than being fired by the Mets.
If the interest is in deterrence against future cheating, the mission was a failure.
On Manfred's watch, the players that sullied the game get to go on making their seven-to-nine figure salaries, playing alongside those that have upheld the integrity of baseball, without so much as a minimal fine or suspension. They retain that privilege at the cost of two Astros players (so far) doling out haphazard (if not sarcastically toned) 30-second apologies more than a month past due.
Perhaps worst of all, Major League Baseball permits this team to retain the mantle of 2017 World Series champs, sullying the integirty of the game.
Manfred's lack of real, lasting action in this scandal has set a precedent of tolerance for cheating, and sends a ripple of disgrace throughout, not just the past two years, but the history of MLB. If fans can't depend on the boss of their league to protect baseball, then what purpose does he even serve?