Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred apologized Tuesday for calling the World Series trophy "a piece of metal" during an interview this past weekend.
"In an effort to make a rhetorical point, I referred to the World Series trophy in a disrespectful way, and I want to apologize for it," Manfred said during a press conference in Arizona, according to Greg Beacham of The Associated Press. "There's no excuse for it."
Manfred made the remark about the aptly named Commissioner's Trophy during an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech that aired Sunday. He was responding to a question regarding his decision not to strip the Houston Astros of their 2017 World Series title as part of their punishment for illegally stealing signs.
"The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act," the commissioner told Ravech. "People will always know that something was different about the 2017 season, and whether we made that decision right or wrong, we undertook a thorough investigation and had the intestinal fortitude to share the results of that investigation, even when those results were not very pretty."
Players across the league quickly blasted Manfred. Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner - who lost two consecutive World Series - led the charge Monday by saying the commissioner is "out of touch" with those who play the game. That criticism continued Tuesday.
"You play for a reason. You play for that piece of metal," Chicago Cubs pitcher and three-time World Series champion Jon Lester said a few hours before Manfred issued his apology, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. "I'm very proud of the three that I have. I mean, if that's the way he feels, then he needs to take his name off the trophy, you know?"
Lester continued: "I'm sure that hurt a lot of guys when they saw (his comment), especially guys that haven't won it that have been striving for years to try to get to it. I'm sure if Adam Dunn heard that - he played one playoff game his whole career - he'd probably be pretty upset. It's a very, very special thing that he brought down quite significantly."
Manfred has drawn heat from across the sports world recently, both for his handling of the Astros' situation and for other issues within baseball. Still, the 61-year-old feels he remains capable of overseeing MLB.
"I feel tremendously secure in my position as commissioner, regardless of whatever discipline I have to impose on a club or clubs," Manfred said, according to Sportsnet's Arash Madani. "There is no conflict of interest between my disciplinary role and my job security."