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Gammons: Time for Selig to
2002-07-16 12:12
by Mike Carminati

Gammons: Time for Selig to Go?

Peter Gammons has an ESPN article with the headline "It may be time for Selig to quit." It seems an odd stance for him and may be a more controversial spin that his editor grafted onto the story (kind of like what I did). For the most part Gammons seems sympathetic to Selig ("His record is nowhere near as bad or evil as the lampoons make it appear") and hints that Fehr and the Players Union are blind, religious zealots. If they both sat down and made concessions, the crisis would be avoided.

I have to admit that from time to time I feel sympathetic to the plight of Bud Selig, especially after the All-Star game (his ruined coming out party). I mean, he isn't the devil. He may be good to his kids. He may work with charities, I don't know. Then he opens his mouth, and the sympathy evaporates. Bud Selig is an employee of the owners and a quasi- (if not real) owner. That in and of itself is a conflict of interest. Doug Pappas and others have shown that Selig will make decisions that are advantageous to the Brewers above all other teams. Selig will also put the owners interest before the interests of the sport (e.g., contraction), but that's his job--those are the people he represents.

By the same token Donald Fehr represents the players in their dealings with the owners. He is trying to get what he feels is best for the people he represents and puts that before the best interests of the sport. It's his job. Would you want someone who is representing you (an attorney, a PR person, etc.) to put your interests on the back burner to make a stand for what they feel is right? It's sounds noble, but a) it is disingenuous towards the people you represent and b) who says you are right. If Donald Fehr felt that they players were accepting a de facto salary cap but signed a deal for the owners for the best interest of the game, who knows what the repercussions could be -- maybe a return to the New York large-market hegemony in baseball (even more so than now) and depressed player salaries while the owners get rich. It is not his religion; it's his job. If the players felt that he should take a different tact, they could fire him.

Gammons is right-in an ideal world they should "lock themselves in a room, get a deal that makes everyone money, and show some respect for the game and the players who are being killed in this process." But given that Fehr remembers how the then owners, including Selig and some other active owners, colluded for two years in an attempt to abolish free agency and that the owners' focus has been on contracting teams, manipulating team sales, firing conciliatory negotiators, imposing gag rules on themselves, and spreading the story that financial ruin is around the corner to everyone including Congress when every disinterested analyst contradicts their view, this is not an ideal world.

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