Embarrassing and disgraceful are the words I’d use to describe Dan Le Batard’s interview with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for ESPN. You’ll soon see why.
Let’s get right to it. Here’s the video of ESPN’s Dan Le Batard interviewing his guest, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred.
Before we get into this “interview,” let’s look at another scenario which for anyone following the Mets should draw some parallels. Suppose you were granted a thirty-minute face to face interview with Fred and Jeff Wilpon. And let’s suppose further because it’s not a stretch you have a couple of bones to pick with them about the state of the Mets franchise.
You can go in with guns blazing as Le Batard did with Manfred, making the interview more about yourself by hitting the Wilpons right off the bat with a question phrased something like this. “How long will Mets fans have to live with your stupidity emanating from the time you fell into the Bernie Madoff trap?”
That’s a legitimate question the Wilpons have never answered, and it could have a lot to do with the penny-pinching that reporters, including us at ESNY, talk about on a daily basis. We don’t know. But if you are genuinely looking to get inside the heads of these two men, that is hardly the way to go about doing it.
What would anyone expect them to say” “Yeah, that was one real cluster-f**k, wasn’t it?
The Wilpons, like commissioner Manfred, hold prominent positions in MLB. And with that comes a certain amount of respect due to these types of exchanges. So when Le Batard invokes the word “liar,” the conversation is over, and he goes home only with a more prominent ego than he had before, but no real exchange of thought.
He gets what he was after when Manfred denies he was aware that Derek Jeter and company were about to tear down the Marlins with a rash of salary-dump trades. But so what? Is there anyone reading this who didn’t already know that was Jeter’s plan, out of necessity? And if we knew, isn’t it logical that Manfred knew the same thing?
As Manfred correctly pointed out, he was not there to provide a deposition. And regardless of what ESPN and Le Batard may have wanted to believe, Manfred was not sitting in a courtroom. He did not put his hand on a bible swearing, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Attorneys are preached to and told in law school to never ask a question of a witness you don’t know the answer to before you ask the question. Le Batard knew the answer to the question before he asked it and so did anyone in his “audience.” So why bother to ask the question in a setting outside a courtroom? Manfred knew! Big deal. Congratulations, major scoop.
ESPN also slipped down a notch in my book as a result of this episode. And that’s mainly because I didn’t know there was a need to hire and promote the equivalent of Rush Limbaugh in Dan Le Batard to boost the ratings in such an overt manner.
Fittingly, it’ll (hopefully) be a long time before Manfred appears before ESPN cameras again. I’ll take that time in Manfred’s schedule, though. And I’ll bring along a small team of ESNY readers who know how to properly conduct themselves in an interview setting, but with the understanding, you can expect some tough questions, Commissioner.
Because unfortunately, the opportunity was lost when Le Batard went on another one of his ego trips.