With windlasses and with assays of bias,
By indirections find directions out.
— William “Author” Shakespeare via “Luis” Polonius, Hamlet
What is it with Bud Selig and the Red Sox? On the day that we find out that Bud is still exploiting his conflict of interest in Milwaukee, the commissioner, and I use the term loosely, is willing to endorse the Alex Rodriguez-Manny Ramirez trade even though the players’ union has rejected the changes made to Rodriguez’s contract.
MLB’s legal mouthpiece, Rob Manfred, and I use the term loosely, had this to say:
"The basic agreement contains a rule that requires any special covenant to be an actual or potential benefit to the player. In a situation like the current situation, where there was a restructuring, where the player was getting something and the club was getting something, Gene Orza [of the players’ union] is not the final arbitrator on whether the restructuring provides an actual or potential benefit to the player. The commissioner currently is considering his legal options in consultation with the two teams."
Larry Lucchino said that the players’ union the proposed "radical changes" and that "It is a sad day when the players' association thwarts the will of its members." This is the same man who called the Yankees the “Evil Empire”. He does have a gift for the polemic. I’m surprised the Republicans haven’t scooped him up yet.
Well, let’s take a looky-look at the Collective Bargaining Agreement to see what it actually says on the matter.
Under “Schedule A—Uniform Player’s Contract”, there is a section called “Payment”. It states:
Nothing herein shall interfere with the right of the Club and the Player by special covenant herein to mutually agree upon a method of payment whereby part of the Player’s salary for the above year can be deferred to subsequent years.
So maybe Lucchino is right and Orza is overstepping his bounds.
However, later on there’s this section:
No Salary Reduction
6.(c) The amount stated in paragraph 2 [i.e., Payment] and in special covenants hereof which is payable to the Player for the period stated in paragraph 1 hereof shall not be diminished by any such assignment, except for failure to report as provided in the next subparagraph (d).
It seems pretty clear-cut to me. As long as A-Rod reports to the Red Sox, which apparently he had every intention of doing, then his salary cannot be reduced. It can be deferred but not reduced.
It’s difficult to say exactly who is in the right here because the terms have not been disclosed. However, Bud Selig is toying with endorsing the trade even though the players’ union would likely file a grievance, thereby sending it to an arbitrator.
This would be the second time that Bud bent the rules to accommodate this trade. The first was allowing the Red Sox to talk to Rodriguez without a trade in place.
I just have to ask what is it that causes Bud to be so partisan when it comes to the Red Sox. I know that Bud, as a young, unctuous used car salesman in Milwukee, was upset when his beloved Braves moved from Milwaukee and that later spurred him to wrest the Brewers from Seattle. Maybe when he harkens back to the Braves moving, it’s not the move from Milwaukee that so aggrieves him but rather the move from Boston some 13 years earlier.
Perhaps he feels that he has to give back to the Beantown community in the form of Cliff Floyd, Kevin Millar-san, extensions to finalize the Curt Schilling deal, the gentle nudge to ensure that the Red Sox acquire the best shortstop in the game since the second-best one was sticking up the field, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Either that or John Henry has a Paris Hilton video starring Bud. Take your pick.