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FROM BONDS TO CRUZ, ALL-STAR NORMALCY IS BACK

By Murray Chass

July 16, 2017

Reports from the All-Star game last week bordered on giddiness. At Nelson Cruz’s request, Yadier Molina, using Cruz’s phone, took a picture of Cruz with Joe West, the home plate umpire, before Cruz batted in the sixth inning.

Molina did what? He took a picture? On the field? In the sixth inning? What kind of game were they playing?

It was unusual, to be sure. But Cruz obviously felt liberated and acted on that feeling. The All-Star game was no longer linked to the World Series with the winning league’s pennant winner getting home field advantage.

The foolish idea, a Bud Selig creation in cahoots with FOX, existed for 14 years. It was quietly laid to rest last year during the negotiations for a new labor agreement between the owners and the players.

“We didn’t think it was necessary,” said a person on the union side. “They were looking to give it up, too. It was not a subject of much debate. It wasn’t controversial.”

It certainly didn’t prevent the two sides from reaching an agreement for the fourth consecutive time without a strike or a lockout.

The gimmick was ridiculous. FOX, which pays baseball a lot of money for the rights to games, regular and post-season, complained that its ratings for the All-Star game were declining, and Selig agreed to enhance the stature of the game by making it count for something.

If home field advantage were awarded the team from the game’s winning league, it would encourage players to play harder and make for a more competitive game.

Selig and others connected to Major League Baseball spent the next dozen or so years trying to convince fans and the news media that players were playing the All-Star games with greater intensity than they did before the link. And even after the link was disabled, there was this:

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NO DIVERSITY IN MLB DIVERSITY HIRING

By Murray Chass

July 9, 2017

Given the paucity of reporting on Major League Baseball’s disgraceful lack of minority hiring for important positions, such as general manager and manager, the article surprised me. The headline, too.

Written by Bill Shaikin, the article appeared in the June 30 edition of The Los Angeles Times under the headline, “Major League Baseball is ‘failing’ in its attempt to increase front-office diversity and the issue could get worse.”

It was brought to my attention by a reader of this site, who obviously has read a column or two that I have written on the subject.

As if the lack of minority hiring weren’t bad enough, Commissioner Rob Manfred makes it worse by talking about …

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SUCCESS AND FAILURE OF NEW G.M.’S

By Murray Chass

July 2, 2017

General Managers who are hired to replace their predecessors who have been fired come into an obvious situation. They have not been hired to run a championship team or even a playoff contender. Their new teams are among the worst in the majors, and their job is to turn the teams around.

Among current general managers and presidents of baseball operations, 13, representing nearly half of the major leagues’ 30 teams, have been hired in the past two years. Some of the new guys have fated or are faring better than others.

For example, Dave Dombrowski won a division championship last year in his first full season as Boston’s president of baseball operations. The Red Sox finished the season with …

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