One of the beautiful things about sports is the traditions passed down from one generation of fans to another. Whether it is Buffalo Bills fans diving through tables, or people going nuts at the 17th tee of the Waste Management Open in Phoenix, present-day fans find connection with those of the past through these shared activities.
One such tradition is booing the commissioner of whatever league's draft you're attending; an activity baseball fans in town for the MLB Draft pounced on early and often in Seattle on Sunday night.
From the opening of the evening's proceedings to the final selection announced by Manfred, the fans made their feelings for him abundantly clear.
Rob Manfred can barely get words out pic.twitter.com/DturFI8c4E— Baseball GIFs (@gifs_baseball) July 10, 2023
While it cannot be fun to hear how much thousands of people dislike you repeatedly on national television, Manfred's reaction while trying to announce the final pick of the first round is an example of why he's so disliked.
His facial expressions and body language don't indicate that he recognizes or acknowledges any of the grievances fans have with him, and instead, gives off the energy of a father disappointed in the behavior of his young children.
Compare that with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has been receiving boo essentially since he took the position. With the 2020 draft held virtually due to COVID-19, Goodell leaned into the tradition by having fans boo him virtually from their homes.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also receives a similar welcome at events, and this year's draft in June encouraged the fans in attendance to turn up the volume.
Rob Manfred's tenure as commissioner of MLB hasn't been easy.
He's had to deal with COVID, the fallout from the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal, a lockout and franchise relocation since he took the job in 2014.
For many fans, he's handled all of those circumstances poorly.
In regards to the Astros, MLB decided to fine the team $5M take away some draft picks and suspend both the GM and manager for a season. No players still active in the league at the time of the decision faced any discipline. Manfred also said he wouldn't vacate the title when asked, referring to the World Series trophy (also known as the Commissioners' Trophy) as just "a piece of metal."
He's since apologized for both that comment and his inaction toward cheating players, but the damage there was already done.
Manfred has also received criticism for how he handled negotiations for the most recent collective bargaining agreement that resulted in a lockout and delayed the start of the 2022 MLB season, as well as the Oakland Athletics' pending departure from the Bay Area.
The lockout broke @MLB. Manfred has done irreparable damage to the sport— Matt (@Mchuck16) February 25, 2023
When I hear people talk about Rob Manfred, one thing that consistently comes up is that his quotes always come off a little patronizing and demeaning.— Levi Weaver (@ThreeTwoEephus) June 15, 2023
This is one example of why that is a correct assessment. https://t.co/wJrsGoopk0
In a high-profile job like Manfred's, every decision made will have its critics, especially in the age of social media. Gaffes, missteps and lies are much easier to observe and remember. With few other opportunities for fans to share their thoughts directly with Manfred, expect to hear those boos rain down every time Manfred addresses a crowd.