A video emerged Thursday of New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen appearing to speak candidly about the leadership of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred as several teams refuse to play games in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake.
The video, apparently captured on a live stream of a Mets pregame press conference that was never turned off, was posted through Twitter on Thursday afternoon. It shows a 59-second portion of a conversation between Van Wagenen and two unidentified people, none of whom appear to know their words are being streamed.
While Van Wagenen seemed critical of a reported suggestion from the commissioner that players merely delay games rather than refuse to play, he apparently didn’t have his facts straight.
Brodie Van Wagenen issues apology, says idea was from Mets COO
Hours later, the executive was apologizing for what he said was a miscommunication.
Van Wagenen said he misunderstood a prior conversation and attributed an idea he didn’t agree with to Manfred that he says was actually presented by Mets COO Jeff Wilpon. He emphasized that his frustration with the commissioner was “wrong and unfounded,” and apologized for his “disrespectful comments.”
Brodie Van Wagenen says in a statement that the idea he was ripping Rob Manfred for was not Manfred’s, but Jeff Wilpon’s. pic.twitter.com/m9QekmdftC— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) August 27, 2020
Manfred later released his own statement saying he has made no attempt to prevent players from protesting, nor suggested any alternate protest.
“Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong,” Manfred said.
Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. issued the following statement tonight: pic.twitter.com/85QkrrbpS4— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) August 28, 2020
What the Mets GM said about Rob Manfred
In the video, Van Wagenen recounts discussions involving Manfred and Wilpon on how to appease protesting players, then criticize the commissioner’s leadership amid the situation. He seems to be relaying and shooting down a plan in which the players would leave the field in protest, then return to play the game an hour later.
Van Wagenen later says he’s waiting for word from the Miami Marlins, the Mets’ scheduled opponent on Thursday, on the players’ decision about protesting, with Mets outfielder Michael Conforto operating as the Mets’ representative.
A transcript of the clip:
Van Wagenen: “Baseball’s trying to come up with a solution, say ‘No, you know what would be super powerful?’ Three of us here, can’t leave this room. They’re saying ‘You know what 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.’ And I was like, ‘What?’”
Unidentified speaker: “Who said that?”
Van Wagenen: “Rob. Jeff, ‘Scheduling’s going to be a nightmare, there’s so much at stake.’ I said ‘Jeff, that’s not happening. These guys are not playing.’”
Unidentified speaker: “They’re not dealing with reality.”
Van Wagenen: “They’re not playing. But that’s Rob’s instinct and Rob, exactly what you and are talking, at leadership level, he doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t get it.
“We’re waiting. Jeff wants to hear as soon as we hear from the Marlins. Whatever we do, we need to coordinate with the Marlins. So soon as Conforto hears from Rojas. Right, Miguel Rojas? Let me know, because Jeff’s standing by for that call.”
In another video posted on Twitter that appears to show the remainder of the conversation, Van Wagenen discusses the politics at play between Manfred, Wilpon and himself:
“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, and I told Jeff ‘That’s not happening. These guys aren’t playing.’ I just stopped there. I wasn’t even going to take that to Mike.”
Van Wagenen has been the Mets’ GM since 2018. Before that, he worked as a player agent for mega-agency CAA Sports, representing some players he would later oversee with the Mets.
Mets owners misspell GM’s name in statement
Yet another statement was released hours after the Van Wagenen video was posted, this time from Wilpon and his father Mets owner Fred Wilpon. In both statements, the duo condemned Van Wagenen’s slip-up.
They also wrote Van Wagenen’s first name, Brodie, as “Brody.”
The Mets GM is named Brodie Van Wagenen. The Mets just sent out this statement from their owners. pic.twitter.com/aV0Iooh4Ay— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) August 28, 2020
Mets players follow through with protest
As their GM was dealing with the fallout of his comments, the Mets players followed through on their plan to protest. After taking the field, both the Mets and Marlins observed an extended moment of silence, then walked off. Marlins leadoff hitter Lewis Brinson left a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt on home plate as the left.
After a moment of silence, the Mets and the Marlins have left the field.— SNY (@SNYtv) August 27, 2020
The only thing remaining on the field is a Black Lives Matter shirt. pic.twitter.com/t7QfWwofOS
They did not return one hour later.
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