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BASEBALL’S UGLINESS OUT OF CONTROL

By Murray Chass

January 19, 2020

Like it or not, this is one of the saddest eras in baseball history. It’s not the Black Sox scandal of a hundred years ago. It’s not the more recent steroids era. It’s not Pete Rose and gambling. But it’s major league baseball players, the best players in the land, cheating by concocting a scheme to steal pitchers’ signs illegally, using electronic means.

I mean these players, these professional players, these major league players, learned when they were in high school or college how to distinguish a fastball from a curveball. But now that they are professionals they need electronic assistance?

What would Barry Bonds have done with this system? No ballpark in America would have been safe from his assault.

The Bonds era, however, was sad and depressing enough without linking it to another shady era of cheating.

What, you don’t think Bonds cheated because he was never caught? He was caught, all right; he just lied his way out of it. Yes, Bonds was a double duty skunk. He lied and he cheated. He used steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs and claimed he was using flaxseed oil.

With his lying and cheating, though, Bonds has moved into position to be elected to the Hall of Fame. That stunning development could occur this year, this week in fact.

With three years of ballot eligibility remaining, Bonds last year received 59.1 percent of the writers vote, his best percentage in seven years of his candidacy.

According to Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame tracker, as of Saturday, Bonds had …

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CHEAT, CHEAT, CHEAT FOR THE HOME TEAM

By Murray Chass

January 13, 2020

Has Major League Baseball reached the point where teams have to cheat to win?

MLB is investigating accusations that the Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series by illegally stealing signs and at the same time investigating accusations that the Boston Red Sox won the 2018 World Series in a similar fashion.

Who will be next, the 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs? No one has accused them of anything, although I suspected them of tampering when they hired Joe Maddon to manage in 2015. No evidence surfaced, however. (but only because the Tampa Bay Rays never filed tampering charges.)

As for the need to cheat to win the World Series, a baseball official noted …

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THE TWO SIDES OF DAVID STERN

By Murray Chass

January 5, 2020

David Stern didn’t like me. He didn’t know me; we had never spoken, but he didn’t like me – or at least my reporting – nonetheless.

This was 1994-95 when Stern was at his apex as commissioner of the National Basketball Association. He died last week at the age of 77 after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

It is impossible to question what Stern did as NBA commissioner. He rescued the league from threatened oblivion and turned it into a juggernaut and a global venture.

His position gave him authority that no other commissioner had, maybe not even Pete Rozelle of the more powerful and more prestigious National Football League.

Covering baseball for The New York Times, I had no involvement with Stern and the NBA. That is, until labor disputes drew me to the NBA.

With baseball players immersed in what would be a 234-day strike in 1994 and negotiations in abeyance, the sports editor asked me to jump into the NBA talks and cover that dispute.

I eagerly accepted the assignment. That dispute had a wrinkle to it that I had not experienced in baseball bargaining, and I was eager to explore it. Also …

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