Manfred sides with Harper in baseball's culture war

Kyle Terada / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

With Opening Day around the corner, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred weighed in on baseball's culture crisis, and the 57-year-old is siding with Bryce Harper, the 23-year-old phenom who suggested baseball's archaic code of conduct has made the game a "tired sport."

On Friday, roughly three weeks after the reigning NL MVP bemoaned how baseball's "code" prevents him and his peers from expressing themselves, Manfred suggested players shouldn't be constrained by unwritten rules that were popular 35 years ago.

"I think it's always been true in baseball that with respect to what happens on the field - not the rules, but the way players conduct themselves - that each generation of players defines what's acceptable behavior," Manfred said during an appearance on ESPN's "Mike & Mike" program. "It's not always been exactly the same and, you know, I kind of line up with Bryce Harper on this."

Last month, former New York Yankees great Goose Gossage helped ignite the debate over baseball's longstanding rules of etiquette with an epic tirade decrying the showmanship in baseball. Gossage, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008, even called Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista a "f------ disgrace to the game" for tossing his bat after his unforgettable homer in Game 5 of the ALDS. Manfred, however, doesn't see things that way.

"I think that we got a great generation of young stars coming into the game, and just like Goose (Gossage) and his peers decided certain things were okay and certain things weren't, this generation is going to define what the game looks like on those topics," Manfred said.

Related: MLB stars endorse Harper's fun mantra

Were he in Bautista's situation back in October, Manfred said he wouldn't have tossed his bat, but as a baseball fan, he was cool with it.

"If I were a player, I wouldn't do that; the fact of the matter is: what he did did not offend me," Manfred said. "It was a very, very exciting moment at a point in time of great excitement for that particular franchise - when they hadn't been a great team for a long time - and it's one of those moments that happens and it's exciting. People liked it, and probably, on balance, it's good for the game."

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Manfred sides with Harper in baseball's culture war
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