At the All-Star Game on Tuesday, Houston Astros starting pitcher and three-time All-Star Gerrit Cole told reporters that he believes there are too many MLB teams tanking in the 2019 season. Cole argued that people who buy tickets should see the best product on the field possible. Per USA Today:
"It's just disappointing to see. You're coming to major-league games to see the best players, and at least 50% of the league doesn't give a (expletive) about winning or having their best players on the field. What are we doing? What are we doing? Come on."
While Cole may be using a bit of hyperbole in his comments, his frustration is still understandable. Teams like the Orioles, Marlins, Royals, Tigers, Blue Jays and Mariners have obviously committed to rebuilds, which means sacrificing competitiveness in the meantime. All six of those teams -- five of whom Cole sees fairly regularly in the American League -- are at least 16 games under .500 at the break.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred put his own spin on the current state of competition in the majors, pointing out that most teams are at least close to the wild-card spots in both leagues. Here's what Manfred told Alex Speier of the Boston Globe on Tuesday:
Manfred on competitive balance: MLB has 20 teams within five games of playoffs, which he said hasn’t happened since 2012. Acknowledges that some team-building approaches have changed, but he expects teams will accelerate turnarounds due to significance of young players.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) July 9, 2019
"When you talk to our owners, everybody's competing," Manfred said, when asked about the concerns of teams not competing. "The question is what are they doing to be competitive and at what stage in that process are they. I think at the end of the year, my guess is you're going to have more parity in terms of the spread of winning percentages than we had last year, and that's a good thing.
"Obviously the tighter the clubs are grouped, the better it is for us and for our business. I do think that in today's game, it's important to realize that as always there's been a cycle to competitiveness and clubs are going to continue to go through those cycles."
You can tell that things are tense between the league and its players right now. It certainly didn't help things when this past winter was a slow free agent market for the second consecutive year. The Major League Baseball Players Association is expecting some big changes in their next collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires Dec. 1, 2021.
After this year's Home Run Derby, MLBPA head Tony Clark said theClark also said that he's
Then there was Cole's teammate and fellow starting pitcher, Justin Verlander, Manfred subsequently .