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Totally Not Fake News: MLB leadership’s reaction to the 2023 World Series matchup

How did MLB’s top leader really feel about this World Series matchup?

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Division Series - Baltimore Orioles v. Texas Rangers - Game Three Photo by Ron Jenkins/MLB Photos via Getty Images

(Editor's note: This was written at the beginning of World Series but just now published)

New York - As the calendar turns to November, Major League Baseball is in the midst of its marquee event of the year: The World Series. After 6 months of regular season baseball and nearly a month of playoff baseball, America is again witnessing the Fall Classic...right after they get through watching their so-so NFL teams and fair-to-middling college football squads play out their games...while finding time to deal with fall chores and Halloween costume prep...oh, and managing to find time to make a living and all of those things.

Still, with the World Series upon us, where the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks the last two standing to try to win that special “hunk of metal”, it is worth wondering what MLB leadership is thinking with the end of two battle royals of League Championship Series, both going 7 games in high-drama, high-intensity contests. We at Totally Not Fake News recently obtained through completely legal and ethical means as endorsed by the University of Michigan Football team staff some information about MLB leadership’s thoughts on events this past week.

[Footage of a conference room in MLB headquarters...surprisingly inside of a room with no windows...and with a lot of maps of Central Europe]

[MLB Commissioner Rob] Manfred: “Let’s review the current situation.”

U/I Person 1: “Commissioner, as you know, the ALCS recently finished up. It saw the Rangers come back from down 3-2 to beat the Astros 11-4 to win the ALCS and clinch the American League Pennant.”

Manfred: “Yes, Yes!!!! Oh Yes, did I EVER see that news!!! Sweet...Sweet Hallelujah!!! Those [expletive deleted] Astros!!! Finally, they are not in play. I still have nightmares about how their fans treated me last year. The booing...all...the...booing.”

U/I Person 2: “Mei...er, I mean Mr. Manfred, you seem surprised about this result. Wasn’t this part of your master plan to improve baseball ratings, by getting rid of a team that has been in most of the lower rated World Series?”

Manfred: “Well, you are correct. We did have a grand strategy for improving baseball’s image in the last off-season. As most of you know, we had the public-facing information, mainly the whole rule-change thing about shortening the games, pitch counts, more stolen bases, killing the shift...all common knowledge. However, for those of you new to this operation, we had several...secret motives. As most know, the team that has given me the MOST trouble in my reign as F...er, I mean Commissioner of Baseball has been that team in Houston. The whole ‘trashcan’ thing, and then they just keep winning and taking the drama out of everything. Just killing our ratings.”

U/I Person #3: “Weren’t the Astros a team that profited by the shift?”

Manfred: “Yes, yes they were. My staff continued to inform me that their defensive efficiency and run prevention fell dramatically. Went from top 4 to what, middle of the pack? That was a bonus.”

U/I Person #2: “Sir, the Dodgers were also a team that leveraged the shift? Did you mean to hurt them?”

Manfred: “Of course not. I need the Dodgers for part of my plan. Still, I did accept some collateral. However, the Dodgers were a 100-win team and even if I loathe them, the Astros still had their role to play. All good dramas have to have a villian, no?”

U/I Person #2: “Absolutely, mein...I mean, Mr. Manfred.”

Manfred: “You need to watch those freudian slips there, dude. Anyway, we had the end goal, which many suspect, but we can’t say out loud...that being the ultimate ratings winner...teams from Los Angeles and New York playing for the World Series. Ratings gold!!!!”

U/I Person #3: “Uh, sir, that...that...didn’t...”

Manfred: “Yes, I am well AWARE that the LA and New York teams didn’t make it!!! To think I had faith that the Angels would ACTUALLY do something, but of course, they blow it. The Mets...all money, but no brains. The less said about my, er, the Yankees, the better. Had hopes for the Dodgers, but once again, they can’t seem to get it done in the playoffs. I mean, I told them about [Trevor] Bauer back in 2021. Told them he would be radioactive....but NOOOO, they didn’t listen. [Expletive Deleted], he hasn’t pitched for them in nearly 2 years, and they are still dealing with the fallout. All of their starting pitching problems...well, figured they could slug their way out of those problems, but of course...playoff Dodgers.”

“That is why you have what we call branch plans. When the Dodgers showed that they weren’t gonna get it done, we had to adapt. Thus, the branch plan...which we called the Steiner option.”

U/I Person #4: “Steiner? Uh, wasn’t that...”

[Manfred immediately reaches for baseball bat, wildly swings and bashes in head of staffer]

Manfred: “Anyway, we move forward with the Steiner option. The end game being to salvage the best possible ratings scheme. To me, that means Dallas and Philadelphia. Big media markets with fan bases thirsty for victory. Should overcome the shortfalls of the last few years. Got a great preview with these LCSs. Now, I was a bit leary of the Diamondbacks. However, a scappy underdog is fine, and they are helping out with our plan for playoff expansion.”

U/I Person #6: “Wait, sir, how are we getting from World Series ratings to expanded playoffs?”

Manfred: “Oh, don’t worry about that. As Commissioner, you have to juggle multiple balls. All of the bye teams falling, then people complain about the format punishing regular season performance. Our mortal enemy, the head of the Players Association, is playing his part well, complaining about the bye hurting the ‘good’ teams. Let him. Eventually, after our strategy of attrition, we spring the solution of expanded playoffs, eliminating the byes, making more money for us, and reducing regular season rates for salaries...got it?”

U/I Person #6: [eyeing bloody bat] “Yes sir! Absolutely…Sir, Yes, Sir!!”

U/I Person #2: “Would have been nicer had the Astros not been the only team to really take advantage of the bye and win after its bye.”

Manfred: “True, it is always the Astros [Expletive Deleted] my plans. Anyway, I have full confidence in my Steiner option. With the Rangers taking down the Astros...oh, that reminds me, send notes to our propagandists at ESPN and The Athletic that they can table their Astros stories. [Jeff] Passan and Bow-tie boy will surely love not having to write another Houston story...and with the Phillies well-positioned to finish off the Diamondbacks, we will have our best-case World Series matchup. Was hopeful that Philly could shut them down in 5 or 6, but I’ll take the drama of Game 7. Went to bed seeing the Phillies up 2-1. I am quite confident of watching that series that I didn’t even bother checking the score when I got up out of my bunker bedroom, where I sleep to hide from the threat of bad names said to me in the media.”

[Nervous shuffling throughout the room. Increased murmuring]

U/I Person #3: “Mein...I mean...My Commissioner...the Phillies...the Phillies...”

U/I Person #4: “The Phillies failed to hold the lead against the Diamondbacks. Arizona clinched the NL Pennant. It will be the Rangers vs. the Diamondbacks.”

[Manfred immediately removes his glasses, with hands shaking with rage]

“You, you, you and you remain...everyone else, get out!!!”

[Massive rumbling of chairs and doors as people run like mad to get out of the room.]

Manfred: “WHAT THE [EXPLETIVE DELETED] IS GOING ON?!?!?! THE PHILLIES?!?!? THE [EXPLETIVE DELETED] PHILLIES LOST GAME 7...AT HOME?!?!?!? THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE THE BEST [EXPLETIVE DELETED] FANBASE AND THE BEST [EXPLETIVE DELETED] HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE IN THE GAME!!! HOW DOES A TEAM LIKE PHILADELPHIA, WITH ALL OF THAT TALENT THAT WE SPEND MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MARKETING LOSE TO A TEAM THAT HAS A BUNCH OF PLAYERS THAT NO ONE, AND I MEAN NO ONE, HAS EVER HEARD OF? EVEN THEIR OWN MOTHERS DON’T KNOW THEY PLAY FOR ARIZONA!!!”

U/I Person #2: “But sir, Arizona is a scrappy team, like you said. They’ve gone on a nice hot streak and they really raised the level of their game. They beat 3 straight favorites. It is an underdog...”

Manfred: “UNDERDOG STORIES DON’T HELP OUR [EXPLETIVE DELETED] RATINGS!!! WE ARE TRYING TO SET UP SOME BIG [EXPLETIVE DELETED] TV DEALS, BUT FIRST ALL THE REGIONAL NETWORKS GO UNDER AND NOW WE ARE GIVING OUR BIGGER NETWORKS [EXPLETIVE DELETED] SERIES??? NO WONDER ALL OF THE OTHER SPORTS ARE KICKING OUR [EXPLETIVE DELETED] IN THE RATINGS. THIS IS THE WORST POSSIBLE MATCHUP THAT WE COULD HAVE HAD. EVEN IF THOSE [EXPLETIVE DELETED] ASTROS HAD ACTUALLY WON A HOME GAME, WE COULD SELL DAVID AND GOLIATH WITH HOUSTON VS. ARIZONA. NOW...NOW, WE’LL BE LUCKY TO OUTDRAW THE PAC-12 AFTER DARK...”

U/I Person #1: “If it helps sir, we’ve notified our propaganda ministers to try to sell to people why they should tune in to watch this series. You have two teams, one that hasn’t won a World Series in 60+ years of existence and another that hasn’t won since 2001. They are doing their best.”

Manfred: “Yes...yes...they are doing their best...BECAUSE DOING THEIR BEST WILL GIVE US THE RATINGS THAT WE SO DESPERATELY NEED!!!! EVEN WHEN WE HAD THE DODGERS IN AN ACTUAL WORLD SERIES THAT THEY WON, THE RATING WERE THE WORST EVER!!! THEY HAVE BARELY GOTTEN BETTER!!!! THIS IS THE END!!!! THE END YOU HEAR!!! YOU MISERABLE INCOMPETENT FOOLS!!! I SHOULD HAVE FIRED EVERYBODY IMMEDIATELY WHEN OUR MAIN PLAN FOR NEW YORK AND LA TO MEET IN THE WORLD SERIES FELL THROUGH. EVERYONE HAS LET ME DOWN!!!”

U/I Person #2: “Cheer up sir...we should significantly outdraw the initial NBA regular season games...and we’ll likely beat the WNBA Finals. There are victories...”

Manfred: “ENOUGH!!! THOSE MEAN NOTHING!!! NOTHING!”

[At this point, an exhausted Manfred collapsed into his chair, leaving his remaining staffers to look nervously at each other, and while our reporting indicated that the room was well-air conditioned, all were sweating profusely.]

It remains to be seen just how this first non-Astros (and non-Dodgers) World Series since 2016 will play out [Update: Off to quite the start with the 6-5 Game 1 thriller taken by the Rangers]. It is odd that there is debate in the media about whether or not it is worth it to watch a World Series, but that is the world we live in. We suppose it will be a World Series that won’t have an obvious hate-watch candidate (no Astros, no Dodgers and definitely no arrogant, overrated AL East squad). Perhaps the Rangers will take that mantle, but how many outside of Houston will view them that way?

We at Totally Not Fake News cannot offer a prediction about this World Series. Honestly, all scenarios are on the table here. However, Totally Not Fake News is confident about two things: 1) That someone is getting a World Series championship that will pay out yuuuugggggeeee money to someone who made a bet back in March (provided you did that with money you can afford to gamble with and you don’t have a gambling problem, because baseball is always so great with gambling and World Series action) and 2) The fan base at whatever stadium the “hunk of metal” is handed out with will likely serenade a pale and wan Manfred with the reception he so richly deserves