In a video recording, New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen discussed Rob Manfred’s handling of protests around the league.
In a video posted to the team’s website – and deleted soon afterwards – New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was caught on camera having a candid conversation with two other people about Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and the league’s handling of protests.
Van Wagenen said in the video that Manfred suggested staging a gesture before Thursday night’s game against the Miami Marlins – but ultimately play the game – as others around the league have opted not to play Wednesday and Thursday in protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
However, later Thursday night, Van Wagenen issued a statement that he had misinterpreted what had been said in a conversation between Manfred and Mets owner Jeff Wilpon.
« Jeff Wilpon called Commissioner Manfred this afternoon to notify him that our players voted not to play. They discussed the challenges of rescheduling the game. Jeff proposed an idea of playing the game an hour later, » Van Wagenen said in the statement.
« I misunderstood that this was the Commissioner’s idea. In actuality, this was Jeff’s suggestion, » Van Wagenen said in the statement. « The players had already made their decision so I felt the suggestion was not helpful.
« My frustration with the Commissioner was wrong and unfounded. I apologize to the Commissioner for my disrespectful comments and poor judgement in inaccurately describing the contents of his private conversation with Jeff Wilpon. »
Manfred issued a statement of his own denying that he had tried to influence players’ and teams’ decisions on whether to play.
“Over the past two days, players on a number of clubs have decided not to play games. I have said both publicly and privately that I respect those decisions and support the need to address social injustice, » Manfred’s statement said.
« I have not attempted in any way to prevent players from expressing themselves by not playing, nor have I suggested any alternative form of protest to any club personnel or any player. Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong.”
The leaked video was an extended recording of the team’s pregame video call with the media and the segment with Van Wagenen was clipped by users online.
« Baseball is trying to come up with a solution, saying ‘you know what would be super powerful,’ » Van Wagenen says to his colleagues off camera in the video, before noting that the information was to stay with « the three of us here – it can’t leave this room. »
Van Wagenen goes on to say he was told: « You know it would be really great if you just have them all take the field, then they leave the field and then they come back and play at 8:10. »
Here’s the full, audio-boosted 2:20 of the Mets/Manfred/Van Wagenen stream, there’s about 20 seconds of blank air that I cut out at the end pic.twitter.com/ALHfYZCQQ3
Van Wagenen answers « Rob » before going on to say that « with (Mets owner) Jeff (Wilpon), scheduling is going to be a nightmare, there’s so much at stake. »
The team’s GM says he responded to the owner: « I said ‘Jeff, that’s not happening. They’re not playing.' »
« But that’s Rob’s instinct, » Van Wagenen says, pointing to someone off camera, noting it was « exactly what you and I were talking about. »
The conversation continues with Van Wagenen updating colleagues on the status of discussions between Mets and Marlins players as to whether they would play Thursday.
Van Wagenen responds: « Jeff wants to support the players first and foremost. But he has to be the messenger for Rob to at least throw that to us. I told Jeff ‘that’s not happening, Jeff – these guys aren’t playing.’ I just stopped it there, I wasn’t even going to take it to (Mets’ MLBPA representative) Michael (Conforto). »
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