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Dear Commissioner Manfred....

You expect us to believe you?

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Washington Nationals
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is alienating fans with a player lockout.
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Commissioner Manfred,

Do you really expect baseball fans to believe the stunt you’re pulling will fix what’s wrong with the game? Or that the changes you’re locking players out to impose will suddenly make more teams competitive?

We’re not buying that any more than we bought seven-inning games or the free runner in extra innings.

Your disingenuous letter defending and justifying the player lockout and childish business actions you’ve taken have set new standards for passive aggression.

Exactly whom do you think you are punishing by taking down all your media depicting current union members from your websites?

Are you trying to make us forget that Max Scherzer exists, just days after he signed the richest contract in the history of the game?

Yet you have plenty of licensed merch, with Scherzer’s name and plenty of others, available just a click away from those same websites.

The majority of people who consume your product and patronize your sponsors don’t care which legal agreement covers what. All we see is you disparaging your superstars from one side of your mouth while begging us to buy, buy, buy products with their names from the other — an audacious level of greed.

You also can’t expect us to believe that teams can’t be competitive with the game’s current economic structure.

You complain that baseball is the only major sport with no salary cap and guaranteed contracts that run 10 or more years, and in excess of $300 million. Yet you hardly discouraged your newest owner from bidding up the average annual value record by more than 20 percent.

It’s bad form to cry poor before the ink on that record contract is dry, and even worse form to make us believe it will impede competitive balance.

In the 26 years since the work stoppage that canceled the 1994 World Series, 15 of your 30 teams have won at least one World Series, and every team in the major leagues has played at least one postseason game.

A different team has won each of the past eight World Series, including the Chicago Cubs in 2016, two seasons after finishing last in their division, and Houston, four years after a last-place finish.

You’ve contrived a postseason system that has yielded two all-wild-card World Series this century and sent 100-win teams home in the Division Series in each of the last two full seasons.

The first season with two wild card teams in each league, 2012, those extra teams, Baltimore and St. Louis, advanced to the Division Series. The 2012 Cardinals went on to the NL Championship Series, as Nats fans all too painfully remember.

That doesn’t sound anti-competitive and imbalanced.

Here in Washington, we saw the Nationals win the the World Series the season after losing high-priced superstar Bryce Harper in free agency. The highest-priced free agent from the Nats’ World Series team, Anthony Rendon, has toiled in obscurity and injury in Anaheim for the past two seasons.

In practice, teams spend a lot less going from worst to first than they spend staying at the top.

There are plenty of things wrong with baseball, but the issues you raise are not among them.

Fans love love it when a big-money free agent comes to town. We buy jerseys and t-shirts and ticket packages and spend more money on sponsor products after every signing.

Instead of focusing on cutting the salaries of the highest-paid players, trying to keep the lowest-paid players under team control as long as possible, and restricting player movement, fans want hope that their team can turn the corner with just one or two key moves.

Surely you can hire umpires who will enforce the strike zone and come up with some kind of compromise to abate the abundance of foul balls. Half of your owners already approve of the designated hitter; it’s not the valuable bargaining chip you make it out to be.

However, Mr. Manfred, you can get the fans on your side by addressing what most of us would agree is the biggest problem in the game today: Let us watch our home teams on television or your streaming service without subscribing to cable or satellite TV.

Thank you.