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UNVARNISHED VIEW OF BUD SELIG NOT FOUND ELSEWHERE

By Murray Chass

January 25, 2015

What did he know and when did he know it?

What did Bud Selig know about collusion and when did he know it?

What did Bud Selig know about steroids and when did he know it?

While Selig scoops up accolades with both hands as he leaves office after 22 years as commissioner, he faces questions that he won’t answer but that undermine the reputation he has gained as the man responsible for the game’s impressive growth.

Selig certainly deserves accolades because Major League Baseball is said to have reached, if not surpassed, an all-time high $9 billion in revenue. Owners are making money, players are seeing their salaries escalate upon escalation and fans are flocking to their local ball parks despite rising ticket prices.

But there has been a negative side to the progress, and Selig heads that parade as well.

Nearly three decades after the first of three years of the owners’ collusive activity against free agents (1985-87), Selig has never acknowledged that the owners colluded in violation of the labor agreement with the union. He has never said, “Yes, as the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers in those years, I was guilty of collusion.”

Or if he didn’t want to make it so personal, “Yes, we violated the free-agency rules.”

But not a word of any sort from Selig in 30 years, or 25 even after two arbitrators found the owners guilty, and the owners agreed to pay the players $280 million in a negotiated settlement. Despite his silence, Selig had to pay his share of the settlement.

I reached him at his office in Milwaukee last Wednesday and asked if he cared to talk about collusion before he left office Sunday.

“I don’t want to go back into that now,” he said. “That was …

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MANFRED INHERITS THE SELIG SAN JOSE STALL

By Murray Chass

January 22, 2015

So many players are competing in the California Bay Area baseball game viewers need a scorecard to keep track of who is playing what position. A glossary of terms would also help.

On the need for a glossary of terms, take as an example a comment by Rob Manfred, baseball’s incoming commissioner. He was reacting to on an appellate court decision in California upholding a lower court dismissal of antitrust claims in a lawsuit filed by the city of San Jose against Major League Baseball.

“Litigation often distracts people from what the real issue is,” Manfred said last week. “The real issue for us going forward is that Oakland needs a new ballpark, and we need to get focused on making sure that we get that done as fast as we can.”

Upon my initial reading of that comment, I thought Manfred was saying …

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ONCE GREAT PITCHER ON HIS WAY BACK

By Murray Chass

January 18, 2015

For most people, the biggest pitching development of the past week was probably the $19.75 million contract David Price accepted from Detroit for next season. For me, though, the biggest and most gratifying pitching development was the two innings Johan Santana pitched in a Venezuelan winter league playoff game.

That Santana pitched two innings was terrific in itself; that he retired all six batters he faced with only 17 pitches was better than even he could have hoped for.

“And the two innings were in a stressful situation,” said a veteran scout who is familiar with Santana from his major league days.

Given his last few seasons, the left-handed pitcher could easily have fallen off baseball’s players’ map, but he is back, healthy, pitching again and intent on re-establishing himself as a major league starting pitcher. Barring another mishap, Santana will most likely be signed …

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