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JANE CLARK’S TOADIES

By Murray Chass

December 16, 2018

The retired baseball writer thought I was joking. Lee Smith and Harold Baines have been elected to the Hall of Fame, I told him last week.

It was too early – or too late, depending on your view of the calendar – for April Fool’s Day, so no, I wasn’t joking. The newest members of the Hall of Fame were Lee Smith and Harold Baines.

They were elected last Sunday by a 16-person committee appointed by the Hall’s board of directors, Jane Forbes Clark, chairman. It was one of four committees that vote once or twice every five years to stock the Hall with new players in case the writers, in their annual vote, decide no one is worthy of election.

For 15 years the writers decided Smith wasn’t worthy of election. They decided Baines wasn’t worthy of election for all five years he was on the ballot and in fact declared him so unworthy that in his fifth year they didn’t give him enough votes to keep him on the ballot for a sixth year.

Clark and other Hall officials are so eager to have live bodies on the stage at Cooperstown on induction day in July they will almost grab anyone off the street. They have never figured out that having players the caliber of Smith and Baines detracts from and dilutes the honor for the players who deserve it, i.e., the players voted in by the writers.

I don’t always agree with the writers’ election, but if 350 or 400 writers vote for a player, so be it. But for the Hall to give players a second chance makes no sense. There’s no crying in baseball? There should not be a second chance either. If a batter strikes out, he’s out. That goes for Jack Morris, too.

When Morris was on the writers’ ballot for 15 years, I was …

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A TALE OF THE PRESIDENT AND THE CON MAN

By Murray Chass

December 9, 2018

As the George H.W. Bush funeral train stood in front of the Bush library at Texas A&M last Thursday and George W. Bush stood reverently and lovingly waiting for his father’s casket to be removed, I couldn’t help but think, “This man could have been commissioner of Major League Baseball.”

George W. Bush wanted to be commissioner of Major League Baseball, but Bud Selig wouldn’t let him. Selig wouldn’t let him because he wanted to be commissioner himself and he refused to give Bush the nod he was waiting for. Blocked in his genuine desire to succeed Fay Vincent, who had been forced out of office by a gang of misguided owners led by Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf, Bush turned to politics instead. He became governor of Texas and subsequently president of the United States. Thank you, Mr. Selig.

It’s not a new story; it’s an old story, a 25-year-old story. But it’s worth retelling in light of the focus on the Bush family last week …

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MANFRED KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING. WANNA BET?

By Murray Chass

December 2, 2018

I don’t know the derivation of the goofy saying that someone is turning over in his grave, but right now Bowie Kun must be turning over in his grave.

As commissioner from 1969 to 1984, Kuhn was so adamantly opposed to Major League Baseball having any link to gambling he banned Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle from the game because they had public relations jobs with Atlantic City casinos. After he was retired as commissioner, he criticized a successor, Fay Vincent, for allowing Lotto signs in ball parks.

Today, M.L.B. has a commissioner, Rob Manfred, who has sold his soul for a mess of pottage, in this case, millions of dollars that he negotiated to gain from MGM Resorts International as a sponsor of M.L.B. In that regard, Manfred is the third commissioner of a professional sports league to …

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