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Bud Selig and his Big Mouth


OrioleMagic

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What the union is dead set against is having the owners cram things down their throat.

As for what Bud should have done, that's easy. Instead of all the Mitchell Report BS, he should have just told everybody the truth: it was a colossal failure of MLB as a whole. When it started, nobody really understood it, so everybody let it slide. The owners, the FO, the players as a whole, everydamnbody. He should have said that the players who didn't do it are to be commended, but even they played along with it, just like the owners, the FO, and the commissioner did. Which means nobody is innocent and everybody's guilty. He should have said there's no way to undo what happened, there's no way to straighten out exactly what effect it had on everybody's numbers, and that that's part of the crime that all parties participated in, including the owners and himself.

And, if he really wanted to establish a foundation for future cooperation with the union, he should have gone farther than that: he should have said that the ultimate responsibility lies with the owners and himself, because they run the sport and they let it happen. Downplaying the whole blame-the-union thing would have been infinitely better than what he did. The way he mishandled it only deepened the level of mistrust and suspicion. Had he done it right, he could have changed that whole tone. But, since he works for the owners, he didn't want to do that. So, instead, he let the owners off the hook completely and blamed everybody else but them. Which is BS, but the owners love him for it.

I agree with a lot of what you say here and do agree that the Selig's PR approach to the issue was/is awful. But other than better PR I'm still not sure what else the commissioner or owners could have done to have prevented the problem. The owners / commissioner did try to get testing passed in the CBA negotiations in the 90s but of course the Union was unwilling. In a misguided way Selig did downlplay blaming the union by saying that they were unaware of the problem after consistently being unsuccessful in getting the Union to agree to testing. When it comes to the steroids issue itself the Union and by extension the players deserve the vast majority of the blame. When it comes to the PR aspect of the issue the commissioner and owners deserve a lot of blame for taking a bad situation and turning it into an awful one.

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I personally won't knock Selig. Against an acrimonious and adversarial MLBPA he instituted testing and penalties for PEDS that are strong and working. Previously under Ueberroth, the owner collusion and subsequent court findings drove an iron wedge between the two parties that created an enormously difficult impediment for Selig's predecessors to overcome, and his success is evident in the sports pages today. You can debate if it's working or not, but we're seeing the results now. His program is stronger than the NFL's by the way.

He certainly has presided over huge increases in league revenues with the wildcard, which he introduced, with revenue sharing, and with interleague play (which I don't like). The luxury tax is a Selig innovation. And his steering of the MLB into technical innovations regarding Internet streaming, which is wildly successful became a model paradigm that other sports are jealous of - under Selig, MLB was the first sports entity to jump on the Internet bandwagon with both feet. The WBC is another Selig innovation.

He also instituted movement towards a uniform strike zone with the introduction of quest-tec against strong opposition from the ump union, and now we're also looking at technical replay means to ensure home run integrity. As a tech guy, I'm impressed at the technical savvy Selig has brought to the game, both in revenue sources and game improvement.

Additionally under Selig, home-field now goes to the All Star game winner, which is kinda cool.

And it's been how many years since a strike or walk-out?

I'm not entirely a Selig fan however. Although Selig drove revenue and baseball popularity to unprecedented historical levels he's used that renaissance to build at least 12 new ballparks that I can think of. However, that the financing of those parks are the result of Selig's bullying cities into tax funded construction is outrageous.

But to knock Selig without acknowledging his important and pretty revolutionary accomplishments and improvements is dumb.

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I agree with a lot of what you say here and do agree that the Selig's PR approach to the issue was/is awful. But other than better PR I'm still not sure what else the commissioner or owners could have done to have prevented the problem. The owners / commissioner did try to get testing passed in the CBA negotiations in the 90s but of course the Union was unwilling. In a misguided way Selig did downlplay blaming the union by saying that they were unaware of the problem after consistently being unsuccessful in getting the Union to agree to testing. When it comes to the steroids issue itself the Union and by extension the players deserve the vast majority of the blame. When it comes to the PR aspect of the issue the commissioner and owners deserve a lot of blame for taking a bad situation and turning it into an awful one.

I fully agree that MLB took initial steps to address it that were initially resisted by the union. However, I think that alone had next to nothing to do with the substantive issue of roids, and instead had everything to do with the long-standing tradition of the owners trying to force their own self-serving policies on the players, which had created a reflex of knee-jerk resistance by the union.

I think it's fair and accurate to say that the history of owner behavior towards players helped cause the union to resist dealing with the issue just a tad longer than the owners resisted it. However, if you back up and look at it from 10,000 feet, and not just from that one little time-window, then I think it's fair to say that everybody participated in a crime against baseball. One huge factor in that is something that people now seem to forget: that roids became a significant issue in the sport *before* there was a proper understanding of what roids really were, and the implications of them both for the sport and for player health. For most of the time, everybody thought of roids like "greenies only better". By the time people began to realize that it wasn't like that, then we found ourselves with Yet Another Example of mistrust between owners and players making things worse instead of better. Too bad Bud's handling of it only served to make that mistrust greater instead of smaller. But, since he works for the owners, that was essentially the job he was given to do, so he did it.

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I fully agree that MLB took initial steps to address it that were initially resisted by the union. However, I think that alone had next to nothing to do with the substantive issue of roids, and instead had everything to do with the long-standing tradition of the owners trying to force their own self-serving policies on the players, which had created a reflex of knee-jerk resistance by the union.

I think it's fair and accurate to say that the history of owner behavior towards players helped cause the union to resist dealing with the issue just a tad longer than the owners resisted it. However, if you back up and look at it from 10,000 feet, and not just from that one little time-window, then I think it's fair to say that everybody participated in a crime against baseball. One huge factor in that is something that people now seem to forget: that roids became a significant issue in the sport *before* there was a proper understanding of what roids really were, and the implications of them both for the sport and for player health. For most of the time, everybody thought of roids like "greenies only better". By the time people began to realize that it wasn't like that, then we found ourselves with Yet Another Example of mistrust between owners and players making things worse instead of better. Too bad Bud's handling of it only served to make that mistrust greater instead of smaller. But, since he works for the owners, that was essentially the job he was given to do, so he did it.

No doubt that owners have given players a lot of reasons to mistrust them but I do think the penedulum has shifted so far in the other direction that it is the Union moreso than the owners that are responsible for some of the games ills such as steroid usage.

Regardless of how we got to that point there was nothing the commissioner or owners could do to reduce the steroid problem without union support and it was clear that the union had no interest in preventing usage. They were even reluctant and fought against testing even after things blew up. It wasn't until public opinion, some players and Congress demanded testing that the union decided it was worthwhile.

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No doubt that owners have given players a lot of reasons to mistrust them but I do think the penedulum has shifted so far in the other direction that it is the Union moreso than the owners that are responsible for some of the games ills such as steroid usage.

Regardless of how we got to that point there was nothing the commissioner or owners could do to reduce the steroid problem without union support and it was clear that the union had no interest in preventing usage. They were even reluctant and fought against testing even after things blew up. It wasn't until public opinion, some players and Congress demanded testing that the union decided it was worthwhile.

IMO, one's bias in favor of the union or against it will be reflected in when one starts telling the story from.

One can tell history either way, as suits one's bias about it.

So, it's not that history results in someone having a bias. Rather, one's bias influences how one reports on the history.

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I personally won't knock Selig. Against an acrimonious and adversarial MLBPA he instituted testing and penalties for PEDS that are strong and working. Previously under Ueberroth, the owner collusion and subsequent court findings drove an iron wedge between the two parties that created an enormously difficult impediment for Selig's predecessors to overcome, and his success is evident in the sports pages today. You can debate if it's working or not, but we're seeing the results now. His program is stronger than the NFL's by the way.

He certainly has presided over huge increases in league revenues with the wildcard, which he introduced, with revenue sharing, and with interleague play (which I don't like). The luxury tax is a Selig innovation. And his steering of the MLB into technical innovations regarding Internet streaming, which is wildly successful became a model paradigm that other sports are jealous of - under Selig, MLB was the first sports entity to jump on the Internet bandwagon with both feet. The WBC is another Selig innovation.

He also instituted movement towards a uniform strike zone with the introduction of quest-tec against strong opposition from the ump union, and now we're also looking at technical replay means to ensure home run integrity. As a tech guy, I'm impressed at the technical savvy Selig has brought to the game, both in revenue sources and game improvement.

Additionally under Selig, home-field now goes to the All Star game winner, which is kinda cool.

And it's been how many years since a strike or walk-out?

I'm not entirely a Selig fan however. Although Selig drove revenue and baseball popularity to unprecedented historical levels he's used that renaissance to build at least 12 new ballparks that I can think of. However, that the financing of those parks are the result of Selig's bullying cities into tax funded construction is outrageous.

But to knock Selig without acknowledging his important and pretty revolutionary accomplishments and improvements is dumb.

I can give credit for progress under his watch. I completely disagree with you saying that his program is stronger than the NFL's. The parity in the NFL is unmatched in any other sport in my opinion and Arizona's Super Bowl appearance is a great example. There is no disparity in payroll's like comparing the Yankees to the Pirates!

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The NFL has parity because of the salary cap. It is just that simple. The baseball owners have been trying to work toward that end for decades, but the union just isn't having it.

No, it is not that simple. Sure, the MLB owners want a salary cap to keep more for themselves, but a salary cap has very little to do with the fundamental diff between how the NFL and MLB operate.

The main reason things are different in the NFL, and the main reason there is parity in the NFL, is because Pete Rozelle got the NFL team owners to agree to have a single, shared league-wide policy about TV money. All the teams share the TV money equally. That is overwhelmingly the major difference between relations among NFL owners and MLB owners. By sharing the TV money, the NFL made themselves into one industry with shared resources, rather than an OPEC-like cartel of radically different financial interests who are separated by TV money rather than united by it. The baseball owners have been unable to approach anything even vaguely similar to the NFL's kind of industry-wide policy about TV money. Rather than deal with the huge and overriding money issues that separate themselves into different tiers of clubs who have radically disparate financial resources, the MLB owners are united in only one thing: blaming each and every one of baseball's problems on the players.

Is Fehr a dick? Sure. After Marvin Miller, he had a hard act to follow. I'm certainly not claiming that Fehr is a force of Peace and Love. But attributing MLB's management-labor issues to him, saying the diff between how the NFL and MLB each do business is somehow because of the 1-sided influence of Donald Fehr, is just flat-out wrong. It's the fundamental financial difference among the owners that everything else flows down from, including perpetual war with the players union. It's the only thing that keeps MLB owners distracted from the foundational financial problems among themselves. A salary cap would not change that. Rather, it would just create a situation in which the wealthy clubs would find new ways to dominate the weaker clubs, just like they did before the players union even existed, back when the players had to swallow whatever salary pittance the owners decided to pay them, back when player salaries were not an issue at all. If you go back and look at the actual facts, you'll see that there's been far greater parity in baseball since the advent of the union than there was before the union.

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IMO, one's bias in favor of the union or against it will be reflected in when one starts telling the story from.

One can tell history either way, as suits one's bias about it.

So, it's not that history results in someone having a bias. Rather, one's bias influences how one reports on the history.

There are certain decisions that really are black and white... Is testing for steroids beneficial for the sport? I think that the answer to that question is an easy one. Of course it is. The union being wronged by ownership in the past does not change that or would it be your contention that it does? And if so, why?

The union put the interests of its members that chose to cheat over the best interest of the sport not to mention the interests of the clean players. I don't see how the union being wronged in the past makes their reluctance to do what was clearly the right thing something they should get a pass for.

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No, it is not that simple. Sure, the MLB owners want a salary cap to keep more for themselves, but a salary cap has very little to do with the fundamental diff between how the NFL and MLB operate.

The main reason things are different in the NFL, and the main reason there is parity in the NFL, is because Pete Rozelle got the NFL team owners to agree to have a single, shared league-wide policy about TV money. All the teams share the TV money equally. That is overwhelmingly the major difference between relations among NFL owners and MLB owners. By sharing the TV money, the NFL made themselves into one industry with shared resources, rather than an OPEC-like cartel of radically different financial interests who are separated by TV money rather than united by it. The baseball owners have been unable to approach anything even vaguely similar to the NFL's kind of industry-wide policy about TV money. Rather than deal with the huge and overriding money issues that separate themselves into different tiers of clubs who have radically disparate financial resources, the MLB owners are united in only one thing: blaming each and every one of baseball's problems on the players.

Is Fehr are dick? Sure. After Marvin Miller, he had a hard act to follow. I'm certainly not claiming that Fehr is a force of Peace and Love. But attributing MLB's management-labor issues to him, saying the diff between how the NFL and MLB each do business is somehow because of the 1-sided influence of Donald Fehr, is just flat-out wrong. It's the fundamental financial difference among the owners that everything else flows down from, including perpetual war with the players union. It's the only thing that keeps MLB owners distracted from the foundational financial problems among themselves. A salary cap would not change that. Rather, it would just create a situation in which the wealthy clubs would find new ways to dominate the weaker clubs, just like they did before the players union even existed, back when the players had to swallow whatever salary pittance the owners decided to pay them, back when player salaries were not an issue at all. If you go back and look at the actual facts, you'll see that there's been far greater parity in baseball since the advent of the union than there was before the union.

Good post about the cap... IMO you are exactly right that it is real revenue sharing that differentiates the NFL and MLB moreso than a cap. The revenue sharing issue may work itself out in the decades to come as we eventually (hopefully) move away from broadcast delivery of content to delivery via IP for which MLB has an NFL style revenue sharing model.

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There are certain decisions that really are black and white... Is testing for steroids beneficial for the sport? I think that the answer to that question is an easy one. Of course it is. The union being wronged by ownership in the past does not change that or would it be your contention that it does? And if so, why?

The union put the interests of its members that chose to cheat over the best interest of the sport not to mention the interests of the clean players. I don't see how the union being wronged in the past makes their reluctance to do what was clearly the right thing something they should get a pass for.

I'm not defending the union for dragging its feet about roids for a bit longer than the owners dragged their feet about roids. There was nothing right about them doing that.

My only point is that how it looks depends on how closely you zoom-in, time-wise. If you look at just the 2-year span (or whatever it was), then the union looks like pro-roiding maniacs. If you look at it over the bigger span of owner-player relations, then it looks like something else. I'm not saying the union was right to drag their feet and resist. They weren't right, they were wrong. But neither do I think the union was really pro-roids. Rather, they were locked into a mindset of never giving an inch to the owners because the owners want to destroy the union. In this, the union is not hallucinating. Too bad that the way it got played out was in dragging their feet about roids.

In addition, I wonder how much the owners were seriously rah-rah about the noble cause of stopping roids for the sake of the noble cause, vs. how much they viewed roids as an opportunity to get one-up on the union and finally be able to make them knuckle-under about something, anything. While they were trying to come across as being on the right side of the issue, they were still happily paying gazillions to Barry while buying him suddenly-bigger hats and shoes, paying Roger a million bucks per start for part-time work, etc., etc. So, I have a hard time seeing the owners as being on the right side of the issue either. While I don't doubt that they could see that roids needed to stop, I also think a big part of it was that they really liked the idea of using roids as an opportunity for sticking it to the union and finally being able to make them say uncle about something.

On this issue, Fehr was a doofus and I bet the owners loved it. I also bet Marvin Miller would have handled it differently.

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Most of the owners believe (and rightly so) that they can give up an extra 1-3% of the total pie to the players and still come out ahead if more thorough sharing and a hard cap were in place because the total pie would grow by more than the 1-3% extra they are giving up.

Changes in revenue sharing were considered at that time? If so, do you recall how signifcant the changes might have been?

BTW, the difference in negotiating shared TV money for a sport with 16 total games that all occur basically on the same WEEKEND day vs a sport with 162 games occurring every day of the week is like the difference between learning to play the card games war and duplicate bridge. Baseball garners MOST of its TV following via regional followings until the play-offs (and all star game). Football does not. Most of the baseball fans I know can't stand the Fox "game of the week" because it shuts them out of watching their favorite team. I've had DirecTV now for 13 years for no other reason than MLB extra innings (and the football package).

That isn't going to be changed because there is so much data being generated on a daily basis in baseball. People don't have time/effort to follow more than a single team closely or a handful of teams from 10000 feet.

Baseball needs local media revenue sharing. When a network like YES! broadcasts a game the opposing team deserves a cut of the revenues generated. After all, without their participation there is no product. Institute local media revenue sharing and teams like the Yankees will still have a lot more revenues available to spend compared to teams like Tampa Bay but the gap would be a lot narrower than it is now.

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I'm not defending the union for dragging its feet about roids for a bit longer than the owners dragged their feet about roids. There was nothing right about them doing that.

What is your definition of a bit longer? The union has been thwarting any kind of testing being instituted since Fay Vincent wanted to insitute it (around 1991). Several CBAs have been negotiated where the owners were shot down trying to institute a testing program.

My only point is that how it looks depends on how closely you zoom-in, time-wise. If you look at just the 2-year span (or whatever it was), then the union looks like pro-roiding maniacs. If you look at it over the bigger span of owner-player relations, then it looks like something else. I'm not saying the union was right to drag their feet and resist. They weren't right, they were wrong. But neither do I think the union was really pro-roids. Rather, they were locked into a mindset of never giving an inch to the owners because the owners want to destroy the union. In this, the union is not hallucinating. Too bad that the way it got played out was in dragging their feet about roids.

If you look at the 2-year span or zoom out to a 15+ year span the union approach to steroids looks the same. I don't want to say the union was pro-roids. But I do think it's fair that they were for players having the ability to use them if they so chose without there being any consequences from the sport. They really did a huge disservice to their members who chose not to cheat and a disservice to their members by being responsible for creating an atmosphere where players may have thought they had to use to keep up with those that were.

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Regarding your point about revenue sharing, you're right to a degree but you're also missing the bigger point IMO. Fehr WILL NOT COLLECTIVELY BARGAIN ON A SALARY CAP. PERIOD.

Well, of course they won't. So what?

You seem to think that the union has some obligation to accept a salary cap just because the owners want one. They have no such obligation. The owners have zero case that they should. The whole "good of the sport" propaganda is hollow. If I was the players, I wouldn't trust the owners either unless/until they had some good reason to think the owners were serious about the good of the sport. Now, if the owners had acted to reduce the tremendous disparity in team revenue, that would be one thing. But they haven't. Revenue sharing is a token that does nothing to close the gap. To the contrary, because the owners won't deal with the core issue of TV money, the difference between rich and poor teams grows larger and larger, not smaller. IMO, the players correctly perceive that the owners want a salary cap without substantively addressing the core problem.

If they address the core problem, a salary cap isn't necessary. If they don't address the core issue, a salary cap won't fix what's wrong. In other words, salary cap is a red herring.

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If you look at the 2-year span or zoom out to a 15+ year span the union approach to steroids looks the same. I don't want to say the union was pro-roids. But I do think it's fair that they were for players having the ability to use them if they so chose without there being any consequences from the sport. They really did a huge disservice to their members who chose not to cheat and a disservice to their members by being responsible for creating an atmosphere where players may have thought they had to use to keep up with those that were.

We can argue about time-frame, but the basic point is the same: The union maintained the Ostrich Strategy about roids longer than the owners did. We both agree that was wrong. I think the core reason for that was the entrenched battle lines between the owners and the union. I do not believe that the union was pro-roids for the sake of being pro-roids. I believe it was mainly a symptom of something larger: the stance of "never give an inch" to the owners. Given the history, I think that stance is both very understandable and unwise.

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When the owners picked one of their own to be "acting commissioner" for six years a lot of people lost faith in the integrity of the office. Then the acting commissioner was anointed commissioner when he agreed to place his ownership of the Brewers "in trust." How is the head of the union supposed to react to that sleight of hand? He has taken a very hardline stance.

What if the Office of the Commissioner was moved from NYC to DC? Baseball receives a special antitrust exemption from Congress. Maybe that exemption should come with a little oversight as well.

I got it. Make the Commissioner of Baseball a Cabinet position, appointed by the President to keep the best interests of baseball and the American People above the interests of the greedy owners and the equally greedy players. The Secretary/Commissioner would have to be approved by the Senate, just like any appointee to the cabinet, and through that process, would be vetted and hopefully be a person of good character without a financial stake in the game.

I write this mostly as a light-hearted exercise, but there has got to be a better solution than having a supposedly independent Commissioner appointed exclusively by the owners. This system does nothing to increase public trust in a game where the public has been asked to shoulder so much of the expense of the infrastructure.

The owners have no product without the players, and the players have nowhere to play without the fans picking up the tab.

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