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By Murray Chass

March 18, 2018

In response to last week’s column, which raised the question of collusion by clubs against free agents, a Las Vegas reader offered a different reason for the lack of free agent signings. Charlies Midgley wrote:

“I am astounded no one – writers, pundits, players, managers, executives – has mentioned the elephant in the room.

“That elephant is the collection of absolutely horrible and reckless contracts awarded to players over the age of 30….. since the steroid era.

“For 100 years player performance peaked at the age of 32 or 33, pitchers and hitters alike. Of course there were outliers, but they were the exception, not the norm.

“Along came steroids and muscleheads like Bonds were having career years much later in life.

This was never going to hold when baseball finally – and belatedly – decided enough was enough.

“The owners, however, never noticed performance would revert to the pre-steroid norm.

“Beneficiaries, who amazingly under-performed included:

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By Murray Chass

March 11, 2018

A couple of weeks ago the Players Association, a.k.a. the union, filed a grievance against four teams – Marlins, Rays, Pirates, Athletics – accusing them of being revenue-sharing cheats. They were not, the union charged, using the money they received under the revenue-sharing plan of the basic agreement for the purpose stipulated in the agreement, that is, improving their team.

In filing that grievance, the union eschewed another one, the one called collusion, the violation of the agreement that cost the clubs $280 million in the latter half of the 1980s.

Given the peculiar way the clubs have or have not pursued free agents this off-season, the union would have surprised no one had it opted to have accused the clubs of improper treatment of free agents. The weekend before spring training began 90 of 167 free agents – 54 percent — were unsigned, including the most noted names on the roster:

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By Murray Chass

March 4, 2018

With a decision imminent or sooner, a would-be bettor was unable to get odds last week on which way the United States Supreme Court would rule on a New Jersey appeal of a 2016 appellate court decision that kept legal sports betting confined to Nevada.

The high court does not announce in advance its schedule of rulings in this session, which lasts into June. But the legal betting case has generated tremendous interest, and the court could take that interest into consideration and issue its ruling earlier in the term rather than later.

Citizen gamblers are not the only ones who have eagerly awaited the Court’s decision. Nearly two dozen state legislatures have been working on bills that would enable bettors to place wagers on games of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

That group serves as the ironic element of the saga known as …

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