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Rob Manfred Gifts Headphones, Writes Appreciation Letter To MLB Players To Resolve Lingering Lockout Sentiments

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Somehow, this story is not a joke.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, in an apparent effort to smooth over the relationship between the league and the players after the terrifically unnecessary lockout over the winter, handed out gift boxes to players on opening weekend. Those boxes contained a pair of headphones and an obviously sincere, heartfelt letter of appreciation to the players who are responsible for the league existing and thriving.

Manfred's note commended the players on the "extraordinary accomplishment" of being a big league ballplayer, and the commissioner said he's "committed to working together with all players to grow the sport."

The letter concludes: "Thank you for everything you do in a game that has such a rich history and deep meaning to our fans in the U.S. and around the world. Wishing you the best of luck for a successful season. Sincerely, Rob."

Of course, the gesture may technically be better than doing nothing at all. Some of the players' children will surely appreciate a new pair of Bose headphones -- at least, the children of players who didn't immediately throw the gift in the trash, that is.

Yet it's hard -- if not downright impossible -- to believe a single word written by "Rob" in that letter to the players.

This is a commissioner who, when given the opportunity to deliver baseball to rapt fans at a time in 2020 when no other sports were taking place, delayed and stalled and lied in a set of dishonest negotiations that pushed the start of the season back to the end of July, when it would be competing with the NBA and NHL. (Lest there be any confusion about his intentions during those "negotiations," Manfred admitted that the owners were never going to go for a season longer than 60 games, because they wouldn't be making money on ticket sales. Players wanted to get on the field, but Manfred and the owners wouldn't let them. Talk about growing the game.)

He's also the commissioner who played needless games with players during the lockout, insisting that there was simply no way to possibly play the first two series and then the two series after that, only to simply ... pretend that never happened while announcing the 162-game season this year.

He's also absolutely bungled the rulings of punishment in various sign-stealing controversies in recent years, smiled while announcing the cancellation of games, dismissed the significance of championships by calling the World Series trophy a "piece of metal," condescendingly answered a reporter's question after said reporter disclosed a previously covered-up aspect of the Astros' sign-stealing operation, oversaw the elimination of dozens of minor league teams' affiliations with MLB clubs, and lost any and all trust with the players in the league during his seven-plus years on the job.

But, hey: Free headphones! And a note. Very nice. Problems? Solved. Distrust? Over! The headphones have done it.

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