A hot-mic comment about MLB commissioner Rob Manfred forced Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to do a lot of explaining.
Van Wagenen appeared to question Manfred’s leadership ability Thursday, while also ridiculing an idea that the Mets and Marlins stage a one-hour protest Thursday rather than boycott their game entirely. He even took a second to push back slightly against team COO Jeff Wilpon.
He did all this while divulging classified info, to boot. Bad info, he now says.
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About two hours after video of Van Wagenen’s pregame comments to people off camera made it to the internet Thursday afternoon, the GM said he had gotten it all wrong: Manfred was not the bad guy, and the delay idea was just Manfred and Wilpon discussing whether the teams should play at 8:10 p.m. ET instead of 7:10 p.m.
“I apologize to the commissioner for my disrespectful comments and poor judgment in inaccurately describing the contents of his private conversation with Jeff Wilpon,” Van Wagenen said in a statement.
The full statement, via The Athletic’s Evan Drellich:
Van Wagenen told reporters later that he apologized to Manfred by phone.
Brodie Van Wagenen addresses his comments from a video earlier today:
“I apologized to [Rob Manfred] publicly, I apologized to him on the phone. I recognize it was a disrespectful move. It was an emotional day, I want to support players” pic.twitter.com/Zg5vxpfUcq
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 28, 2020
Manfred said in a statement released by MLB that he has not in any way attempted to stop player protests this week, “nor have I suggested any alternative form of protest to any club personnel or any player. Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong.”
Wilpon and his father, Fred, the Mets’ CEO and chairman of the board, criticized Van Wagenen in separate statements late Thursday (via MLB.com).
“I am very stressed and disappointed to learn tonight that our general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, made disrespectful and inaccurate comments about our commissioner, Rob Manfred, a longtime close friend of mine,” Fred Wilpon said.
“Brody’s (sic) misunderstanding of a private conversation was and is inexcusable,” Jeff Wilpon said.
The Mets and Marlins eventually decided not to play. They held a brief ceremony on the field before walking off.
Van Wagenen seemed to be really sure of his sourcing when he was talking freely before the game at Citi FIeld.
“Baseball’s trying to come up with a solution, saying, ‘Oh, you know what’d be super powerful?’ The three of us — the three of us here, can’t leave this room — they’re saying, ‘You know what would be really great? If you just have ’em all take the field, then they leave the field, and they come back and play at 8:10.’ And I was like, ‘What?'” Van Wagenen was recorded as saying.
From there, he pivoted to Manfred and Wilpon.
“Who said that?” someone off-camera asked.
“Rob,” Van Wagenen replied. “And there was Jeff, ‘Scheduling’s gonna be a nightmare, there’s so much at stake.’ And I said, ‘Jeff, that’s not happening — these guys are not playing. They’re not playing.'”
Again from off-camera: “They’re not dealing with reality.”
Van Wagenen replied: “But that’s Rob’s instinct, and Rob [does] not . . . at leadership level, he doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t get it.”
A link to the Mets’ pregame news conference took users to a broken page Thursday evening, but before that happened, there was a live feed, from which came this exchange about rescheduling in the event of a postponement:
“You know, Rob’s trying to say to Jeff, ‘Well the Marlins, the only way they can do it is they’d fly up the same day and play.’ And I said, ‘That’s not true, Jeff.’ They play a day game on Sunday (home vs. the Rays), they could fly up after that game, play us on Monday (a mutual off-day) and fly back.
“That’s just Rob still trying to push, ‘Oh, play the game.'”
From off-camera: “And Jeff wants to appease Rob?”
Van Wagenen: “Jeff wants to support the players first and foremost, but he’s also —”
Off-camera speaker: “It’s a hard spot for him.”
Van Wagenen: “He has to be the messenger for Rob, to at least throw that to us, and I told Jeff, ‘That’s not happening, Jeff. These guys aren’t playing.’ I just stopped it there, I wasn’t even gonna take that to Mike (Conforto).” Conforto, the Mets’ player association representative, was speaking with Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas on whether the teams would play.
The Mets and Marlins had a game postponed last week in Miami after two members of the Mets’ traveling party tested positive for COVID-19. That game was made up as part of a doubleheader Tuesday. The postitive tests also forced MLB to postpone a three-game Mets-Yankees series last weekend at Citi Field. Two of those games will be made up this weekend at Yankee Stadium with doubleheaders Friday and Sunday. The other game will be made up Sept. 3.
Six other MLB games were postponed by player boycotts Thursday: A’s-Rangers, Phillies-Nationals, Tigers-Twins, Red Sox-Blue Jays, Rockies-Diamondbacks and Orioles-Rays. Three games were called on Wednesday.
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