Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen issued an apology on Thursday after a hot mic caught him criticizing MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on video. 

Van Wagenen’s remarks concerned the desire of Mets’ players to protest the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake by not playing their scheduled Thursday night game against the Marlins. Wednesday saw multiple games postponed because of player protests of the shooting, and Thursday’s slate has thus far seen seven games postponed, including the Marlins-Mets game in question. 

The video appears to be of a Mets Thursday pregame press conference that unintentionally included Van Wagenen’s private conversation with unidentified party. Van Wagenen seemed to be criticizing commissioner Rob Manfred’s efforts to pressure the Mets into playing their scheduled Thursday night game against the Marlins despite the wishes of Mets players. Here is part of the video in question: 

And here, via ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Twitter, is a transcript of the video: 

BRODIE VAN WAGENEN: “Baseball’s trying to come up with a solution to say, you know what would be super powerful — three of us here, can’t leave this room — you know what would be really great: If you just have ’em 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 VOICE: “Who said that?” 

VAN WAGENEN: “Rob. And with Jeff, scheduling’s gonna be a nightmare, and there’s so much at stake. And I said: ‘Jeff, that’s not happening.'”

VOICE: “They’re not dealing with reality.” 

VAN WAGENEN: “They’re not playing. But that’s Rob’s instinct. And Rob — exactly what you and I were talking about — at leadership level he doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t get it. Anyway, 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 as soon as Conforto hears from Rojas — Miguel Rojas — let me know because Jeff is standing by for that call … ” 

In a second portion of the video that found its way to social media, Van Wagenen further appears to say: 

“Jeff [Wilpon, Mets COO] 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.”

In the video, Van Wagenen seems to say that the idea to leave the field for an hour in protest and then play the game was Manfred’s idea. However, the apology Van Wagenen issued soon after through the club says otherwise. Here is that statement

“Jeff Wilpon [Mets COO] 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. I misunderstood that this was the Commissioner’s idea. In actuality, this was Jeff’s suggestion. 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.” 

Obviously, MLB and its constituent owners are concerned about mounting postponements in their effort to play a 60-game regular season across a calendar that’s been compressed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and lengthy negotiations with players on the structure of the 2020 season. That schedule has also been further compromised by COVID outbreaks within multiple rosters, which in turn caused a series of postponements. Van Wagenen, though, recognizes that pressuring players to in essence weaken their protest isn’t going to play well, which led him to remark that the commissioner “just doesn’t get it.” According to his apology, though, Jeff Wilpon was the source of the idea. 

In the end, the Mets and Marlins players agreed not to play Thursday night’s game. Both teams initially took the field but departed after a moment of silence that last 42 seconds — a reference to Jackie Robinson’s universally retired uniform number. All that remained on the field after the players left was a Black Lives Matter shirt covering home plate: 

The Mets chose to make a poignant statement the day after outfielder Dominic Smith Jr.’s highly emotional remarks. As noted, the protests stem from the shooting of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, by police in Kenosha, which is roughly 40 miles south of Milwaukee. 

According to video, police shot Blake multiple times in his back as he attempted to enter his vehicle. Blake remains hospitalized in serious condition, and attorneys for the family say he is now paralyzed. Blake’s shooting comes after weeks of turmoil and protest following the killing of George Floyd, another Black man, by Minneapolis police. Tensions surrounding the Blake protests were tragically heightened when a teen from Illinois allegedly shot and killed two protesters Tuesday night.

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