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Monday, June 22, 2009
This is pretty major:
Don Fehr is stepping down as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, a position he's held since the mid-1980s, a source tells ESPN.
Love him or hate him -- and as the reaction starts to come out about this, be assured that it will run about 10% love, 90% hate -- you can't say the guy didn't generally do a good job. In terms of working conditions and pay, baseball players are amazingly better off now than they were when he took over in 1985, and it was largely through Fehr's leadership that the union was able to fend off ownership tactics which bordered on criminal at times, and which could have meant the end of the union if not successfully combatted. Here I'm talking about Collusions I, II and III and the 1994 lockout. If you want an example of how these episodes could have gone without better leadership, you need look no further than the NFL, whose union has repeatedly rolled over for ownership, and the umpires, who were absolutely destroyed by Selig and his friends.
The big exception here is PEDs, where Fehr's instincts to fight tooth-and-nail against ownership ultimately did the union's membership a disservice in my view. Yes, many were responsible for that mess, but it strikes me that it took Fehr too long to recognize that, unlike the often boring minutiae of the usual collective bargaining fodder, there were (a) competing interests within union membership on this issue; and (b) a strong public interest in its resolution. Fehr misread both of those things, and because of it, the players remain stuck in something of a P.R. nightmare and will for some time. I think that angle will be overplayed in the Fehr commentary that will follow in the coming days, but it's not something that can be ignored either.
Finally, I note that the union's general counsel will be taking over. That must mean that there will be an opening for general counsel. While I have no real labor law experience, my Exile post this morning establishes my familiarity with The Grapes of Wrath, so I do have something of a head start when it comes to issues facing working stiffs like fruit pickers and utility infielders and stuff. As such, I'd like anyone from the MLBPA who may be reading this to consider me an applicant for the job. If you must, I'll provide a resume, but I prefer you just judge me by my firm handshake and my unwavering belief in my own abilities.
UPDATE: Via Pete Toms, here's Rovell's take. As I suspect, it's all PEDs, no mention of the fact that a rookie made $60,000 a year when he took over and that the game's biggest stars are now making ten times what they made back then. You may not like it, but that was a major part of Fehr's mandate, and he did his job very very well.
(Thanks to Jason for the heads up)
Given the territorial rights issue, the A's moving to San Jose stands to be a tough sell to begin with, but it's growing even tougher:
San Jose officials have decided not to seek voter approval of a new A's baseball stadium in November, after the team's co-owner said he'd rather wait for baseball officials to indicate whether the A's would be allowed to move to the South Bay.
So, apart from the lack of a financing plan, the lack of the OK from baseball, and the lack of political will on the part of the people and the public officials of San Jose to get moving on this, the freight train that is the A's-to-San Jose idea is just roaring down the tracks!
Tracy Ringolsby is mad:
Manny Ramirez was handed a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy.
I noted the fact of his rehab stint last week, and our friend Jack Marshall made Ringolsby's argument, albeit a bit more lucidly than did Ringolsby. My response, which Ringolsby acknowledges and then dismisses, was that the rehab assignment, while perhaps undermining the purpose of a 50-game suspension to some degree, is really to the benefit of the Dodgers inasmuch as a player coming straight into action without having worked himself into game shape could pose an injury risk. Maybe we don't care for Manny's sake, but if he got hurt on July 3rd in Los Angeles, that would harm the Dodgers -- including Manny's teammates -- and contrary to what Ringolsby says, I’d argue that the Dodgers aren’t deserving of losing their best player any more than they already have.
Ringolsby's response: "[t]eams should be held accountable for the transgressions of their players. If teams suffer enough they might be more vigilant in dealing with potential violations" would be more palatable if I honestly believed that he or anyone else for that matter believed that the teams should be held accountable for players' PED violations. The Dodgers got out of paying $7 million to Ramirez. Does Ringolsby believe that they should have been fined that amount instead, and maybe even more on top of it for punitive reasons? Does he believe that the Dodgers should forfeit Manny-powered games? I'm guessing the answer is no, which renders his "the teams are accountable too" stuff mere claptrap.
I'd be upset if I found out that Manny is being paid his Major League salary for the rehab games, but I'm guessing that he's not. Against that backdrop, I have no problem with him being allowed to get back into game shape in advance of his Major League activation. Not for his sake, but for James Loney's and Matt Kemp's and Joe Torre's sake.
After opening the third inning with a fly out, Pujols returned to the Cardinals clubhouse to review video. There he predicted to assistant hitting coach Mike Aldrete that his next at-bat would ricochet off the yet-to-open Royals Hall of Fame behind the visitors bullpen in left field. “He didn’t say he might hit the Hall of Fame. He said he would hit the Hall of Fame,” Aldrete recalled . . . When Meche finally threw the pitch, Pujols swatted it some 423 feet off a Hall of Fame window.
Screw LeBron. We are all witnesses to Albert.
Anyone know if there's a scientific term for that particularly longing one gets to live in California while watching Angles, Dodgers, Padres, Giants or A's games? It usually only comes up in those contexts. Even the most beautifully shot beach, vineyard, mountain or desert secenes don't do it for me, but cut to a California ballpark, and I'm ready to put Rosasharn in the jalopy and make west . . .
I suppose that was one Dylan bridge too far, huh? Eh, it's Monday.
Look, we're not selling jeans here, and if the suits in the studio have their way, we're not going to be selling tickets to the film adaptation of "Moneyball" either:
Just days away from the start of shooting, Columbia has taken Steven Soderbergh's baseball drama "Moneyball" starring Brad Pitt off the field.
The only thing I can think is that Soderbergh was unsuccessful in convincing the producers that Jeremy Brown's nude scenes were artistically justified.
Red Sox 6, Braves 5: First time I got to watch the Braves on TBS in like forever, and they just stink up the joint. All of that bad defense combined with weather imported from Scotland made this game about the only bad thing that happened to me on Father's Day. If it wasn't for home plate umpire Bill Hohn's AMAZING mustache, this game would have been a total loss for me.
Cardinals 12, Royals 5: Albert Pujols (4-5, 2 HR, 2B, 6 RBI) can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with, He doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
Padres 4, A's 1: According to the game story, the fathers of Brian Giles, Edgar and Adrian Gonzalez, Luke Gregorson, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Cla Meredith, Edward Mujica, Joe Thatcher, Tony Gwynn and Kevin Correia threw out the first pitch to their respective sons before the game in honor of Father's Day. Then, in the true spirit of baseball fathers everywhere, they all got drunk and paced behind the backstop while angrily yelling at the coach to put their boys in.
Marlins 6, Yankees 5: Sabathia left the game early with tightness in his left bicep. He says it's not serious, and given that (a) it was 95 degrees and humid; and (b) Sabathia sweats barbecue sauce, you have to figure it was some kind of heat-induced cramping or something. According to the game story Alex Rodriguez -- playing in his hometown of Miami -- said he reserved about 100 tickets for family and friends. I'm dubious. I read a book last month that said he had no friends, and they couldn't have printed such a thing if it weren't true, right? In other news, the Yankees dropped four of six to the Nats and Marlins in the past week, though I suppose if Girardi's protest succeeds there's a chance to improve that to three of six (note: protests never, ever succeed).
Rockies 5, Pirates 4: The Rockies begin to rip off another winning streak, winning this one behind Clint Barmes (2-3, 2B, HR, 2 RBI). All of this winning has them doing things like taking one of their more marketable commodities off the market. I still say it's ultimately in vain -- Colorado will be watching the playoffs on TBS and FOX just like you and me -- but in the meantime, mazel tov for the Rockies fans.
White Sox 4, Reds 1: Mark Buehrle just went out and acted all Mark Buehrle-y: seven strong innings, very little b.s. He looked good, but nowhere near as good as the Sox looked on Saturday night in those blue roadies.
Tigers 3, Brewers 2: Justin Verlander likes pitching against Milwaukee. The first time he faced them he threw a no-hitter. The second time -- yesterday -- he struck out eight and gave up two runs in seven and two-thirds.
Rays 10, Mets 6: Upton, Crawford and Longoria went 11 for 16 with seven RBIs, and the Rays have now won eight of eleven. The Mets, on the other hand, are in a one-step-forward-two-steps-back kind of rut, having dropped an awful lot of series lately.
Blue Jays 9, Nationals 4: Someone finally douses the red-hot Nats. Well, relatively speaking anyway. It was Ricky Romero stepping up for Toronto, giving up two over seven innings on a day when the bullpen needed a rest following a couple of extra innings games.
Orioles 2, Phillies 1: Man, has Cole Hamels pitched in some bad luck lately. Last time out he got the no-decision after giving up only two runs in six innings, and yesterday it was two runs in eight innings with ten strikeouts. The Phillies lineup -- minus Ryan Howard, who didn't play for the first time in 343 games because he has some nasty sinus infection -- just couldn't do a thing against Jeremy Guthrie, mustering only four hits on the day. Hamels after the game: "I think the key is we're in first place. We're fortunate everyone in the NL East is playing really bad." Man, the Nats can't any props even when things are going good for them.
Cubs 6, Indians 2: You know, if Jeremy Sowers could figure out a way to fix that little hitch in his delivery, the only thing keeping him from stardom would be his complete and utter inability to get anyone out.
Astros 4, Twins 1: Despite his teammates' best efforts to kill him -- Darin Erstad lined a ball off Rodriguez’s left side during batting practice on Saturday -- Wandy Rodriguez was pretty spectacular yesterday (7 IP, 2H, 1 ER). “We need to keep playing good baseball. That’s the biggest key for us,” manager Cecil Cooper said after the game. Astute observations like that are why Cooper makes the big bucks.
Mariners 3, Diamondbacks 2: The game ended when, with two outs and the score tied, first basemen Tony Clark simply dropped a routine throw from the third baseman, turning what would have been out number three into the game-losing error. I've been watching baseball for over 30 years, and I can't recall ever seeing a game end like that.
Dodgers 5, Angels 3: I can't tell if Clayton Kershaw is trying to grow mutton chops or if he simply has the most pathetic mustache in the history of baseball. He's certainly no Bill Hohn, that's for sure. He can pitch, however, shutting out the Angels over seven innings. Juan Pierre keeps up the good work two, hitting a couple of RBI doubles. At first I thought that Pierre's 50 games in the sun would allow him to rest contently, knowing that he proved a lot of naysayers wrong about his ability to start on a winning team. Now I'm wondering if he'll overplay his hand and demand all kinds of playing time based on his track record once Manny returns.
Giants 3, Rangers 2: Barry Zito had a no-hitter going until he gave up a two-run homer to Andruw Jones in the seventh, but an RBI single by Randy Winn in the bottom of the inning preserved the win for Zito and the Giants. Watching Zito face Jones in 2009 has to be a lot like watching Flair face Steamboat in 1995. Something that you would have once paid a lot to see, but now you just hope no one gets too terribly injured.