Over the weekend, Murray Chass wrote a very interesting piece on the history of collusion and how it affects baseball today.
Two quotes, especially, convey the parallels in MLB's approach in 1985 and today:
That [i.e., 1985-'86] winter [owners' chief labor lawyer Barry] Rona said, "To the best of my knowledge and information, there is no conspiracy, there are no rules, there are no bulletins, there are no regulations that exist that control the behavior of the clubs."
Responding to the new suggestions of collusion, Rob Manfred, the clubs' chief labor executive, noted last week that when the clubs had just negotiated a labor agreement "that clearly moves the economics in your direction, why would you collude that year?"
He added, "It makes no sense."
As Chass points out, circumstances were very similar in 1985: "The owners initiated Collusion I two months after negotiating a new agreement in which they gained a major concession from the players that raised eligibility for salary arbitration from two years to three."
Chass does a great job of leading the reader to water and then letting him decide if he wants to drink from the collusion rumors. Chass never states that he believes is an ongoing issue, but one cannot it read the piece without getting more than a hint of his opinion on the matter.
One last funny quote from Chass on the lemming-like nature of the owners:
According to a person present at a meeting of Baltimore officials in September 1986, Edward Bennett Williams, the Orioles' owner, said, "Do you think the commissioner would let us sign Lance Parrish?"