MLB plays uniform police with Willson Contreras' Venezuelan flag sleeve

Fans with an eye for detail watching the Cubs over the course of the last week or so might have noticed a change in catcher Willson Contreras, notably on his left arm. Take a look: 

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USATSI

On the left is Contreras sporting a sleeve that depicts the flag of Venezuela, his home country. On the right is Contreras' new look, thanks to Major League Baseball. From NBC Chicago

Willson Contreras has also been told by the league he's not allowed to wear his arm sleeve depicting the flag of his home country of Venezuela. 

This is all kinds of dumb. The Venezuelan sleeve did absolutely no harm at all. There is no reason why Contreras shouldn't be allowed to wear this for whatever reason he wants to. I often hear people talk about how they don't want politics mixed with sports. Fair enough, but this is not a political statement. It's Contreras' home country. Just imagine an American-born player in Japan wearing a stars-and-stripes sleeve under his uniform. That sounds pretty cool to me. 

Instead, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and his minions apparently would like to take as much personality away from the players as possible. 

And I'll tell you what, Commissioner Manfred. I've tried. I've tried so hard to see your side of things. I've held out hope your heart is in the right place with all this pace-of-play stuff. I tried to believe you never seriously considered putting a runner on second base to start in extra innings. I've tried to convince myself that you sincerely believe appealing to young fans is important, despite still starting World Series games at 8:20 p.m. ET on school nights. I tried to believe you weren't totally in the bag for the owners when you said this during the most absurd offseason in MLB history (via nytimes.com): 

"Drawing lines in the sand based on a perception that your market value is something different than what the market is telling you your value is, that doesn't make a lot of sense," Manfred said. "It is a fact that markets dictate value. Values are not dictated by big, thick, three-ring binders and rhetoric about who's better than whom. They're dictated by markets. That's the system we negotiated."

That's not a third-party commissioner right there. That's full-on owner talk. It doesn't matter which "side" you're on in the discussion. He's 100 percent with the owners. Maybe we should start calling Manfred the "Anti-Player" commissioner? And make no mistake, without these incredibly talented players, Mr. Manfred, you don't have a job. 

Is globalization actually a priority? Manfred and his minions preach as much. We get the World Baseball Classic shoved down our throats every few years. They're sending the Yankees and Red Sox to England next year. They're starting the 2019 season in Japan. Isn't allowing a player to wear something depicting his home country helpful in spreading the game across the globe? There's probably a kid in Venezuela right now pretending to be Willson Contreras. Heaven forbid he see Contreras wearing a sleeve with the Venezuelan flag on it, right? 

Nah, we've gotta suck the fun out of the game. Button it up, Team Corporate Baseball. No room for personality here. 

Again, this is all kinds of dumb. Given that it seems like Manfred wants to suck all the fun out of baseball, acting as a money-grubbing, corporate suit, it's not the least bit surprising. 

Wanting to appeal to a younger audience means allowing more personality in the game, not less. 

You know how much people make fun of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and call it the No Fun League? This is that same type of crap, Commissioner Manfred. Loosen the purse strings and let the talent that pays your salary be themselves. They'll do it in a timely fashion, too, I promise. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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