Mar 22

MLB And Selig Off Base In Latest Suit

There’s arrogance and there’s Major League Baseball arrogance, which is on another level.

Major League Baseball, as often has been the case when things don’t go its way, resorted to strong-arm tactics and finally the courts in its futile effort to get confidential documents from Biogenesis and its operator, Anthony Bosch. Major League Baseball filed suit today in South Florida to force Bosch to open his filing cabinet to commissioner Bud Selig and his legal storm troopers to have Biogenesis surrender documents it is not entitled to.

SELIG: Something not right, here.

SELIG: Something not right, here.

Selig wants Biogenesis to do his dirty, investigative work for him. Selig, infuriated that 90 baseball players are named on Bosch’s files, wants those documents so he can go after the players, namely Ryan Braun, whose lawyer outsmarted MLB’s hired gun when the Brewers’ MVP escaped a 50-game drug suspension on a technicality.

There is an appeals process jointly agreed to by MLB and the union and the sport lost. Now, move on.

Still, Selig clearly has it in for Braun and can’t let it go. Could be he’s going through his phone book now for Howie Spira’s number? Just who is advising this man?

Major League Baseball is threatening players and teammates – reportedly even offering immunity in some cases – for information on the 90.  Where is the Major League Baseball Players Association now in defending its constituency? Smacks of McCarthyism.

This should be thrown out on grounds of general principles. Seriously, doesn’t MLB think these things through?

Major League Baseball, as you know, has a dreadful, almost Mets-like record in the courts. It lost every time the union sued them for bargaining in bad faith, it lost in its collusion defense, it lost against Barry Bonds, it lost against Roger Clemens, and it will lose here.

Frankly, MLB couldn’t win if the other side had a signed confession.

Biogenesis was contracted to the players it individually serviced, not to their teams or MLB as an entity. Why do you think the players went there in the first place?

Biogenesis had no contract with MLB, and therefore violated nothing and didn’t wrong the sport other than bad publicity, of which it generates enough of its own in the first place.

Biogenesis has no legal obligation to oblige MLB in its request, and frankly, if it did, it would probably be vulnerable to lawsuits from the players for violating their privacy. Biogenesis might not be the most reputable organization in its field, but patients of it still should have reasonable expectations of privacy and not having their names surrendered in a witch-hunt.

Selig’s legacy is tainted at best. There’s no doubt he brought riches to the owners, in large part by ignoring the use of steroids in the late 1990’s and glorification of the sham that became the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run chase in an effort to spike attendance after the 1994 players strike.

Selig forced the strike by trying to push a salary cap on the union after MLB was stung on collusion charges. The union didn’t trust Selig, who drew pointed criticism from his predecessor, Fay Vincent.

“The Union basically doesn’t trust the Ownership because collusion was a $280 million theft by Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf (Chicago White Sox owner) of that money from the players,’’ Vincent said. “I mean, they rigged the signing of free agents. They got caught. They paid $280 million to the players. And I think that’s polluted labor relations in baseball ever since it happened. I think it’s the reason (former union leader Donald) Fehr has no trust in Selig.’’

That strike, subsequent killing of the 1994 World Series and resultant steroids scandal will be how he’s remembered. He’s legitimately trying to clean up the sport, but this isn’t the right way. This further damages him.

Why doesn’t he learn?

Mar 19

Changes That Could Improve Baseball

The NFL is contemplating a rule where running backs can’t duck their heads when outside the tackle box. Like the rule or not, unlike baseball, football is proactive when it comes to rule changes and adjustments in the game.

It isn’t as if Major League Baseball has to appeal to the Supreme Court for changes. Some could be negotiated through the Collective Bargaining Agreement, where others are common sense.

So, with the Mets off today, let’s look into the following changes that could be made to improve the quality of play:

INSTANT REPLAY: Expansion is being considered and rightly so. If they have replay, do it right. Nobody expects it on balls and strikes, although the TV pitch tracker box shows a lot of mistakes. Unlike football and basketball, where action occurs all over the field, much of baseball’s action happens at fixed locations, such as the bases, foul lines and outfield wall. Cameras can easily be focused on those key spots. There are out-safe calls on the bases, as well as fair and foul, that could be overturned with a minimum of time. It would take a fifth umpire located in the press box with monitors. Should take no more than a couple of minutes to get it right, and MLB has the money for the extra umpire.

THE UMPIRES: There is an adversarial relationship between players/managers and umpires. Too many umpires have a short fuse and eject at the slightest debate. So, put a microphone on them they can’t control to record arguments. Not only will it show umpires sometimes being in the wrong, but it also can be taped and sold for extra marketing bucks. Who wouldn’t want a DVD of greatest umpire-manager fights?

SCHEDULING: The scheduling is a mess that creates problems. For example, why are the San Diego Padres opening the season at Citi Field? The weather is ugly in April, so the first month should be mostly within the division so games can be made up easier. If the Padres-Mets game is bagged, it will be hard searching for a make-up date. Why put the Padres, or any team, in position of crossing three time zones to make up a game? Just makes no sense.

THE GETAWAY GAME: The last game in any series, if not followed by an off day, should be in the afternoon. As it is, teams don’t get into the next city until 3 or 4 in the morning, and players are exhausted for the next game. Players can be seen in the clubhouse before the first game of a series guzzling coffee and Red Bull. The quality of play suffers when the players are tired, so why not put them in the best position to succeed? Alert players give the fans a better product. Also, it provides teams at least another couple of day games in a month and what’s not to like about day baseball?

THE DAY-NIGHT DOUBLEHEADER: If MLB insists on interleague play and the unbalanced schedule, there will continue to be 19 games a year against teams in the division. Familiarity does breed contempt, so perhaps this contributes to an attendance fall off at the end of a season. If a day-night doubleheader were scheduled once or twice a month (at home and the road), it would clear 12 days, which could be used for extra off-days and make-up games. I’ve spoken to many players who would rather have the doubleheader if it meant another off day. This format could schedule shorten the season by up to a week and start the playoffs earlier. Anything to alleviate November baseball. I know they’ll never go for the traditional doubleheader because of not wanting to give up the gate, but this is feasible.

BODY ARMOR: This padding on the elbow has to go. If you’re protecting an injury, fine, but players are taking advantage of the padding and therefore don’t fear the inside pitch. Not fair. Barry Bonds spend the last four or five years of his career not having to worry about being plunked.

PITCHER SHIELD: Can’t a light helmet with a face shield for pitchers be designed to protect them from line drives to the head and face? They made helmets mandatory for base coaches after a coach was killed after being struck in the head. Does somebody else have to be seriously injured or killed before something is done?

SUSPENSIONS: When a player is suspended for throwing at a hitter or using a corked bat, his penalty should come against the team he was playing against at the time. Just seems a fairer way. And, why does the player usually have to wait until the next time his team plays in New York before an appeal? There’s teleconferencing and conference calls, so what’s the big deal?

There are countless of other possible changes, but these are a few that have been rattling in my mind. I’d like to hear if you have others.

 

Mar 14

Dillon Gee Wild In Mets 9-1 Loss To Tigers

dillon gee

The Detroit Tigers defeated the New York Mets this afternoon by the score of 9-1 at Tradition Field. Most of the damage came against starting pitcher Dillon Gee who was absolutely awful and completely out of sync.

Gee had no control as evidenced by his four walks, two hit batters and three wild pitches in just two innings of work. The right-hander will need to get things sorted out very quickly if the Mets are to improve their MLB betting odds for this season. Gee was charged with six earned runs and didn’t beat around the bush after the game when he was asked if any particular pitch was giving him trouble. “All of them [gave me trouble], terrible.”

The  finally tally on balls and strikes told the story; 53 pitches and only 24 strikes.

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, Gee said he did not care to throw additional pitches in the bullpen after the outing. He instead just wanted to turn the page on a lousy day.

I agree, turn the page…

Feb 20

Pete Rose Not In The Cards

There is nitpicking, there is pettiness, and there is Major League Baseball policy, which is in a category by itself. There’s no other way to explain my reaction to what I just read.

TOPPS baseball cards, of which I have tens of thousands, banned Pete Rose from its 2013 set. TOPPS not only won’t have Rose’s picture on any cards, but also won’t put his name on the back in a feature called “Career Chase,’’ where a current player is listed to how close he is to the all-time record. Since Rose has the record with 4,256 hits – his name won’t be found.

urlRose was banned from baseball for gambling on the sport, including on his own team, and because TOPPS has the exclusive right to produce MLB-licensed cards, Rose is ineligible to be listed. According to the letter of the contract, TOPPS is within its right to omit Rose, but this comes off as petty and vindictive by both the card maker and MLB.

The object of the game is to hit the ball, and nobody did it more than Rose. It’s like when Stalin had his opponents’ names and pictures stricken from the Russian history books. Stalin had them killed and names erased, but it doesn’t alter the fact they existed. MLB and TOPPS can’t issue an edict on Rose otherwise.

Rose exists and excelled at his game. In the process, he generated millions of dollars in ticket sales, memorabilia and souvenirs for MLB. If MLB wants to ban Rose from holding a baseball job I have no problems with that. However, banning Rose from all things baseball is petty and cruel spirited.

The Hall of Fame is a baseball museum, and despite its strong ties with MLB, it is still a museum. History is not neat and clean, it is messy and tumultuous, and its characters not always emblematic of the best human stock. The Hall of Fame is loaded with those who drank, cheated on their spouses, were racists who never wanted Jackie Robinson in the game, and even murdered.

Continue reading

Feb 10

What I Make Of Piazza Admission

I concede disappointment in Mike Piazza’s admission in his autobiography he took androstenedione, but only because it further lends to speculation he might have used PEDs.

From andro to steroids is the logical, but unsubstantiated conclusion. Once again, Piazza denied using steroids, but this certainly won’t enhance his Hall of Fame chances. Piazza received over 50 percent of the vote, but still was far short of induction. Part of that percentage was from my vote, and for that I still have no regrets.

My criteria was there was no admission of steroid use; he never failed a drug test; was not mentioned in the Mitchell Report; and nobody accused him on the record. There was only the subject of columns pointing out his back acne. To me, Piazza had the statistical career to warrant induction and the acne is only innuendo. As a journalist, I don’t operate on speculation.

Andro was not a banned substance by MLB when Piazza claims to have used it, nor was it illegal. Steroids, however, are different in that before they were banned by MLB, they were illegal in society without a prescription.

Regarding PEDs, Piazza wrote:  “Apparently, my career was a story that nobody cared to believe. Apparently, my success was the work of steroids. Had to be. Those were the rumors. … It shouldn’t be assumed that every big hitter of the generation used steroids. I didn’t.’’

Of course, Piazza could by lying. Lance Armstrong lied. Pete Rose lied. Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa lied. It wouldn’t be a shock, but for now I believe him and do not regret giving him my Hall of Fame vote.