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By Murray Chass

April 17, 2015

Commissioner Rob Manfred has said his office is investigating circumstances involving the positive drug tests that resulted in the recent 80-game suspensions of four major league players. Manfred has also said his office will not investigate the recent disclosure of confidential information about the drug and alcohol relapse of Josh Hamilton.

Manfred did not need to say why baseball’s investigators are looking into the circumstances surrounding the steroids suspensions. He might have performed a service for fans had he said why he would not look into comments baseball officials have made about the Hamilton development.

Less than three months into his tenure as commissioner, Manfred has become faced with – excuse the expressions – a new drug scandal, the kind Major League Baseball stumbled onto when documents were leaked to a south Florida weekly newspaper detailing steroids activities of an anti-aging clinic.

The recent test failures, all occurring in a 16-day period, undermine the efforts of Manfred to wipe out use of performance-enhancing drugs. As Bud Selig’s chief deputy, Manfred was the prime mover behind the south Florida investigation that resulted in the year-long suspension of Alex Rodriguez and the successful effort to get the union to agree to strengthen baseball’s drug-testing program.

Manfred’s efforts were so effective that five years ago Selig was prompted to declare the steroids era over.

“The use of steroids and amphetamines among today’s players,” Selig said in a statement, “has greatly subsided and is virtually nonexistent, as our testing results have shown. The so-called steroid era – a reference that is resented by the many players who played in that era and never touched the substances – is clearly a thing of the past….”

Given the developments of the past couple of weeks, this statement requires a great big OOPS!

Before Ervin Santana and three other pitchers were suspended for 80 games each under the disciplinary program that took effect early last season, no major league player had been suspended for steroids use since …

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By Murray Chass

April 12, 2015

When Stan Kasten was president of the Atlanta Braves – during 12 of their unparalleled run of 14 consecutive division championships – he was among the hardest of hard-line owners and executives. Along with such owners as Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf, Kasten fought hard for a payroll cap, the issue that triggered the players’ 234-day strike and led to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.

Today Kasten presides over the costliest collection of baseball talent ever assembled in a major league clubhouse. According to Ron Blum of the Associated Press, who has established credibility with his years of reporting salaries, the Los Angeles Dodgers opened the season with a payroll of $272.8 million. George Steinbrenner, whom other owners often accused of singlehandedly inflating salaries, would never have dreamed of a number like that.

The amount is also more than Kasten’s chief baseball executive, Andrew Friedman, spent in …

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By Murray Chass

April 6, 2015

The bandwagon is passing me by, and I’m not climbing aboard. I’m talking about the bandwagon Mr. Met is operating and inviting all comers to join. From what I’ve been reading, it’s getting pretty crowded.

A consensus seems to have grown in the off-season months that this is the season the Mets turn it around. “It” is their streak of six straight losing seasons, four of which belong to the current general manager, Sandy Alderson, who a curious new book says has revived the Mets.

It’s more than a stretch, I think, to think or say this is a season of …

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