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Selig’s biggest danger now: overreach

Aug 1, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York Reuters

Buster Olney makes a good point in his column today.

Bud Selig is at the brink of near total victory in the PED war. He will soon have suspended all the Biogenesis players and will have presided over a sea change in which most players in the game have shifted from silence or tacit acceptance of PED use to where they are publicly decrying such use.  Some of this was natural evolution, some of it happenstance, some of it skillful maneuvering, but Selig is poised to get almost all the credit.

But one way in which he could risk these gains is by overreaching. Specifically, by taking the tack outlined by the Daily News the other day and insisting that his suspension of Alex Rodriguez be done under his “best interests” powers rather than under the Joint Drug Agreement, thereby cutting off A-Rod’s appeal rights.  Such a move would certainly be tough, but it also might be counterproductive:

If Selig uses his best-interest powers and suspends Rodriguez under the CBA rather than the joint drug agreement, he will basically be taking him off the field before he can appeal — before the due process — and place himself in a position of being the judge and jury for Rodriguez, leading up to protracted arbitration.

From the players’ perspective, that is not ideal due process. The union, whether led by Weiner or somebody else, may decide to fight for that principle, which could lead to a messy labor battle, with new faces at the table.

I don’t think there’s any “may” about it. Such a move would be seen by the union as a power grab. Rank and file players could very easily see A-Rod as a different type of offender than they might be and be fine with harsh discipline, but I believe they’d feel threatened if Selig changes the procedures in place so radically in midstream. That could lead to the union joining in with any fight A-Rod mounts, which could involve a run to federal court for an injunction and litigation that has nothing to do with A-Rod’s drug use and everything to do with the Commissioner’s power.

The alternative: suspend him under the JDA, let the Yankees deal with the awkwardness of A-Rod still being around pending appeal, but declare total victory as Commissioner with the union giving you almost unprecedented backing.

Olney says Selig could use that as a basis for then demanding tougher penalties for first time offenders. Maybe that works, maybe it doesn’t. But it certainly puts him and baseball in the catbird seat, with A-Rod’s appeal being a relatively minor distraction rather than having Selig on the defensive with a big court battle in which arguments are made that Bud went too far.

  1. largebill - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Every other team should scream bloody murder if A-Rod is given more than the 100 games for a second violation. Basically, MLB is voiding a huge contract to the benefit of the Yankees.

    • mashoaf - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:07 PM

      When did he test positive the first time?

      • djpostl - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:18 PM

        As a punshiable offense…never (just in 2003 that triggered testing for real).

        But they have him for using (evidence out of Biogenesis…you don’t need a “hot” test to get hit for using), steering other younger players to the place (Montero and Cervelli perhaps?) AND for impeding the investigation (running around trying to buy up evidence from employees at the place).

        That’s like getting you for assault, contributing to the delinquancy of a minor and witness tampering all in one case.

    • djpostl - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Cry me a river. A couple of years ago you were probably crying “A-Fraud” now that, oops, it inadvertently helps a team you hate suddenly it becomes some MLB conspiracy to help the Yankees.

      The punishment should be what the punishment should be.

      End of story (unless you’re a mental midget).

    • blueballzny - Aug 1, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      So I guess you fell the same way about the Orioles, or are you forgetting that they had Albert Belle’s ridiculous contract voided as well.

      • jwbiii - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        Albert Belle’s contract wasn’t voided. He was injured and an insurance company picked up a large percentage of it. The salary cap issue did not exist at the time.

    • kidneystoner - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:24 PM

      If Selig feels this guy needs to be disciplined, I don’t see how it would be fair or consistent to any other players who are disciplined or any other team that has players who are disciplined or anybody else to take into account any other party’s interests beside for what the proper punishment would be to fit the crime. How is it relevent that the yankees would be a beneficiary? If eight guys get suspended now, undoubtebly there will be 8 new lineup spots around baseball, with 8 guys benefiting from steroid suspensions. That’s life. If you screw up, someone will always be there to take advantage

  2. stevenewatson - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    AND if handled right, this puts baseball out as the model for other major American professional sports’ leagues. Still bugs the heck out of me that because people got in such a twist over Bonds, Sosa, McGuire and their homers, that baseball was labeled as the big problem sport, when other sports – particularly football – obviously have at least as large, and probably way larger problems with PED use and implications for safety, level playing fields, and player health!

    • yahmule - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM

      I agree, but the NFL’s long lasting Teflon coating is slowly being chipped away.

      What I find distasteful is any form of praise for Selig. He was totally complicit in the steroid problem, so he deserves zero credit for his high-handed solutions.

      • heyblueyoustink - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        I basically have no opinion on this whole things as it unfolds, but this one point is the one thing that irritates me. Selig deserves ZERO credit, because he looked the other way when the steroid era was bringing fans back from the strike, and then tries to villafy the same players he was complicit with when a can of creatin shows up during a Mark McGwire interview in the background.

        Bud cares about one thing. Himself, his ego, and winning no matter what the costs.

      • largebill - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        By “totally complicit” I assume you mean powerless to do much of anything until the union caved.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:03 PM

        What’s your evidence that Bud was fighting the union tooth and nail to get rid of PEDs and lost?

    • paperlions - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      It still bugs me that people make these assumptions without any proof. Football suspends players for PED use all the time, and at a higher rate than MLB does, the media just doesn’t beat that horse to death, and the NFL manages to do these things without weeks and weeks or months and months of leaks that lead to “reports” based on “sources”.

      People bitched that they wanted PED testing. Now they have it, and they bitch that penalties aren’t enough, which is silly. These guys have short enough careers and people are willing to apply standards to their work that they sure as hell wouldn’t like to see applied to their own profession.

      • yahmule - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:52 PM

        The NFL is simply more savvy and protective of their brand than MLB. They put the hammer down on ESPN when the their business partners televised a show called Playmakers about a drug fueled and sex crazed fictitious NFL team (Cowboys).

        What happened when ESPN slapped together that schlocky Pete Rose biopic? MLB was more than happy to let them use all their licensed logos and images without oversight or issue with the finished product.

      • paperlions - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:57 PM

        Yep, they work hard to keep things out of the news. Rather than repeatedly leak statements every couple of days, you never EVER hear about an NFL player being potentially suspended until any appeal process is already completed.

        The NFL isn’t perfect, but they have just as good a handle on any PED “problem” as MLB does (though no one knows what that really means)…they just don’t try to destroy the reputations of their meal tickets (the players) the way MLB does.

  3. clarenceoveur - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    Its highly likely Bud’s using this threat as leverage to get a quick and better settlement from A-Rod. Before analyzing his over-reach, I think we need to know whether its anything but a bluff. Maybe A-Rod will call his bluff and simply appeal. Maybe its not a bluff and Bud would really try to suspend A-Rod immediately if they don;t agree on something. I think the point though is everyone’s jumping to judgement based on carefully released leaks, while its overwhelmingly likely they settle somewhere on something like 150 games or the rest of this season and all of next season.

    • clemente2 - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      Yes, let’s not get too involved in obviously orchestrated ‘leaks’. So far Selig’s public stance seems just right for such a negotiation–‘submit or die’–it does not mean anything as to where his real deal lines are located. This is just a normal labor negotiation, with both sides pounding the table, threatening walkouts, all-out war, etc., and then at the last minute working out a deal near to what could be predicted at the start.

      My guess is right now the negotiation is from 150 games (A-Rod position) to rest of 2013 and all of 2014 (MLB position). Maybe MLB is trying for more, I doiubt A-Rod is realistically expecting less than 150.

      • bigharold - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:04 PM

        From A-Rod’s point of view it would be stupid not to fight any suspension.

        MLB likely can’t make a life time ban stick. Evem the “sorces” leaking info to the press have admitted that. An Arbitrator, even if he’s found guilty, will likely give A-Rod far fewer games than the 200+ MLB is insisting on. More likely 100 games. No matter what he does A-Rod’s reputation is shit and he’s never getting into the HoF. If he agrees to any suspension he’s admitting wrong doing. Like it or not, A-Rod is a first time offender, and assuming MLB has the evidence, A-Rod can say he’s never failed a drug test. Once he agrees to a suspension he’s admitting he did what MLB is saying.

        There is no reason for A-Rod to agree to anything. MLB, with it’s leaking to the press and doing everything in it’s power to fight the PR has put A-Rod in the position that he doesn’t have anything to lose. And, in all likelihood he can preserve more of his salary by fighting.

        MLB could have handed him his 50 game suspension and gone through the appeals process by now but they had to make a point. In effect, they’ve dragged this thing on, they’ve made the union look bad by going outside the JDA and for all their bluster about “best interest of the game” they come across as vindictive. Overreach? More like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

      • clarenceoveur - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        yeah, zactly, its like a labor negotiation through the media. And with a deadline looming, you figure they’ll cut a deal somewhere in the middle.

  4. nananatman - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    I think he should over reach into high school to end the Petrie dish they run there.

  5. Jonny 5 - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Like it or not there are some rules when broken, that being a member of a union can’t help you with. I believe that A-Rod is still an employee and still has the right to be suspended or even fired for violating certain policies of his employer. It is how it should be.

    • rmcd13 - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      Those rules and policies are explicitly described in the CBA and JDA. Selig is attempting to circumvent those rules through the “best interests of the game” clause. It’s not Rodriguez who is attempting to rewrite the rules, it’s Selig.

      • Jonny 5 - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        He broke the rules. He knew he broke rules. He tried to cover his tracks by buying records of the “clinic” There is proof. He should be penalized. It is for the best interest of baseball. Why do you think that the union isn’t getting too involved in attempting to protect these players? Because they don’t have the power to. That’s why. If they had the slightest chance of pulling his butt from the fryer they would. It’s probably the most powerful workers union in the world.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:23 PM

        The guy with “proof” was also peddling his proof to the highest bidder. The initial account of events I had heard was that he offered to sell the incriminating evidence to ARod, who turned him down. Then the little opportunist went to MLB and they gladly bought up his “evidence.”

        I don’t know what is right and what is true, but I am not particularly trustful of a band of drug dealers trying to avoid criminal and civil prosecution, and I find it extremely distasteful that MLB has chosen to leak so many damaging rumors about a player before showing any actual evidence of wrong-doing. It is entirely possible that MLB has NO concrete evidence against ARod, but they have done a good job of destroying any chance he may have had of rehabilitating his reputation. At this point I hope he figures out a way to sue Bud for every last cent the commissioner has earned during his reign opportunism.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:23 PM

        I guess I’d need to know, in a comprehensive way, when the commissioner has used this “best interests” authority. Has it ever been used to punish a single player before?

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Is the arbitration panel for discipline bound by the same rules as the panel for player salary? More specifically, would they have the authority to issue some sort of compromise penalty, or must they choose between Bud’s request (lifetime ban) and ARod’s request (nothing).

    I have to say, if ARod does manage to beat MLB on this thing, Bud will look foolish on top of looking like a bully for pressing for such harsh penalties for a first-time offense.

  7. km9000 - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Selig’s starting to remind me of that old Phil Hartman SNL sketch where he plays two different sides of Ronald Reagan.

  8. umrguy42 - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Can’t help but borrow a Star Wars quote:

    “This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of A-Rod, and it will soon see the end of PEDs.”

    • clemente2 - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      Don’t bet on it.

    • commonsenseisnotcmonman - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      I will counter with another Star Wars quote:

      “Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? Surely you over-estimate their chances.”

    • 18thstreet - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      Some people will always cheat. This isn’t over.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      Of course the “this will be a day” quote was by a leader of the Empire. That prediction didn’t work out so well.

      • umrguy42 - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:58 PM

        Hence my use of it, for the irony.

  9. natstowngreg - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    More than a little ironic, since Bud was one of the owners who looked the other way when it came to PED use.

    That said, I agree Bud should stick to the drug policy. The “best interest of the game” power is a blunt instrument, and should be used by the Commissioner sparingly. I’m not seeing any need to use it here.

  10. nobody78 - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    This makes sense, but are you sure the Union’s going to stand up for ARod? They haven’t done much for him so far…

    • voteforno6 - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      They will stand up for due process.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:26 PM

        Exactly. If they allow this for ARod, MLB will be able to point to this case as a precedent the next time Bud decides he does not like a player and wants to kick him out with no evidence to support the decision. Unless MLB has irrefutable evidence of serious wrong-doing by ARod, this seems like a desperate personal witch-hunt.

  11. Cris E - Aug 1, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    Speaking of overreach, “the brink of near total victory in the PED war” sounds a little premature to me. As much as the anti-PED crusaders might have been overstating things when “everyone” was taking drugs a few years ago, you can’t say “no one” is taking them now and beat all the swords into ploughshares (or pee cups into shot glasses, I suppose.)

    Total victory under these martial law circumstances is only going to last until players realize this all happened under some seriously irregular enforcement. Bud won’t have a pile of receipts to work from very often, and frankly it still only cost 50 games for non-MVPs when he did, so the deterrence will be limited. Remember there was a lot of faux consternation back when congress was poking around and the Mitchel report was outing Bad Guys, so don’t be surprised if some of today’s player anger is theater (again.)

    • misterj167 - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      No one is saying that no one is taking PED’s, and I don’t think anyone is saying everyone is taking PED’s either…there are some people who assume that an accusation equals guilt and others saying there’s a process that needs to be followed and others that say you can’t trust Selig or the owners to behave in a fair matter over the issue. Of the three, the first group are the least rational.

  12. misterj167 - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    You mean Selig, an owner himself, will use every tool at his command to bail out a fellow owner who gave a player a ridiculous and ridiculously long contract? Unpossible!

    • 18thstreet - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      (a) Selig’s a former owner. He doesn’t own the Brewers any more.

      (b) If there’s any truth to this accusation, there’s about six contracts as awful as A-Rod’s.

      • misterj167 - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:32 PM

        No such thing as a “former” owner. And if you think, if he manages to get away with this, that he’ll stop with A-Rod, you’re fooling yourself. Give them the opportunity, the owners will give out huge long-term contracts to players and as soon as they get hurt or aren’t as productive as they used to be, just have their fellow owner commish fabricate evidence and use that precedent to annul the contract.

        Don’t think they won’t try it.

      • ezthinking - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        While all true, at least acknowledge that the Commission is the voice of the owners; it’s like the president of the owners. He represents the owners’ interests; it’s his job description. Players have no voice in who the commission is. He is the top dog of management. The CEO of the company that does not report to anyone but the owners. Not the players, media or public.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        I agree with EZThinking, but didn’t everyone know that? He’s hired by the owners. It’s his job to look out for the best interests of the owners.

        Is that news to some people?

  13. ilovegspot - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    He should be banned for kissing himself in the mirror. GO see the photo and ban the freak

  14. ezthinking - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    What about this:

    If ARod is given 50 games for steroids under the JDA and say a lifetime, 100 games, or whatever under the CBA, what happens if he appeals only the CBA suspension and not the JDA?

    ARod takes his clear JDA first-timer suspension as Braun did, but appeals the rest as a violation of the CBA and the JDA. The Union gets their fight, ARod can say he f’d up and try to get back on the field.

    Long court battle ensues. Trial court likely finds that drug use, supply, encouragement, whatever, is controlled by the JDA as part of the CBA since is specifically was designed to handle these situations. Commissioners office and MLB are found in violation of the CBA, pay money to the Union and ARod for wrongful suspension. ARod gets his contract money back plus damages. Maybe even finds that the anti-trust provisions still held by MLB are invalid. It’s now the end of 2014.

    Enter the Court of Appeals. Brief, brief, brief, oral argument, months later we get an affirmance or a reversal. Request for en banc hearing, probably granted, months later, decision. Now end of 2015.

    Appeal to US Supreme Court. Cert granted and brief, brief and brief – probably some amicus briefs as well. Maybe put on oral argument calendar for the end of the 2015.

    HUGE PROBLEM – CBA expires the end of 2016. Negotiations will start in 2016. Pending court case has everyone in limbo. Lots of feelings hurt in the litigation, lockout/strike looms.

    Maybe better solution: Give ARod his 50 games off. He’s out until next season. Yanks make a business decision to sign J Peralta on a two-year cheap deal to play 3rd/SS after his suspension, a deal like Melky got, and write off ARod as a sunk cost. Owner’s give ARod the Bonds’ treatment and won’t even give him a minimum salary deal. By Memorial Day, ARod is forgotten in MLB.

    ARod rides off into the night nailing chicks most guys only dream on his yacht and in his mansions. Writers drudge up his name every off season with questions of whether he should or shouldn’t make the HOF.

    ARod takes time away from his new found love of promoting UFC fights to declare MLB and the BBWAA can stick their HOF up their collective asses and does not wan to be on the ballot. Writers won’t allow the withdrawal because they lost at least 25 articles each a year.

    ARod finds inner piece and sets up a foundation for the cure of stupidity in journalism. 30 years later, his efforts net him the Nobel Prize for his work in identifying self-righteousness. He donates his prize money to the American Red Cross. The HOF becomes just the muesum it should be. The BBWAA dissolves. All is right with the baseball world.


    • thebadguyswon - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:03 PM


    • historiophiliac - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Well, it was less sweaty than the Jeter fan fiction…

    • bigharold - Aug 1, 2013 at 3:26 PM

      If you write that as a comedy it might work. But, you’re going to meed aliens or the Vulcan mind meld to explain Harold Steinbrenner writing a check to A-Rod just to get rid of him.

      Post the second draft version of this by end of day, .. Otherwise great!

  15. thebadguyswon - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    So…..Selig is about the claim victory over a situation that occurred in part because of his inaction in 1998. Ok…got it. Congratulations, Allan.

  16. crackersnap - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Not so groundbreaking, in a sport that already has had Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

    • misterj167 - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Not to mention decades of apartheid and the reserve clause

  17. djpostl - Aug 1, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    The only thing that irks me out of all of this is how the commissioner who was a clue-free dolt who oversaw (or plainly DIDN’T SEE) while all of this was going on under his watch then becomes the “saviour” because he finally gets around to doing something about it.

    He essentially shat the bed and now wants to act like changing the sheets was some heroic thing.

    • gloccamorra - Aug 1, 2013 at 3:26 PM

      Nice analogy. The problem, if you read some above comments, is that the Commissioner works for the owners, and they’re restricted by the players’ union, then led by Donald Fehr. If the owners and Fehr didn’t want anything to happen, there’s nothing the Commisioner could do.

      After the ’94-’95 baseball strike, caused by owner overreach, the owners were again awash in attendance, TV ratings and money, and didn’t want anything to upset the apple cart. Fehr didn’t want any complications either, and both sides were dragged into testing by the drumbeat of baseball writers rolling out stories about “cheaters” and “juicing”, convincing the public that 98 pound weaklings can be turned into superman with a pill or injection.

      There’s a tendency to personalize things, to ascribe to one person all the ills coming down the pike. You can dislike Bud Selig, but don’t assume he had dictatorial powers, and everything that happened was personally his fault, by omission or commission. For major screw-ups, you need a crowd of actors, and all the stars have to line up just so. Funny, that’s part of ARod’s problem too.

      • yahmule - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:09 PM

        It is understood all commissioners work at the pleasure of their league’s owners. Ideally, the person in that chair can at least exert enough influence to spare the collective ownership hivemind from the consequences of their own worst impulses. Suits as empty as Bud’s serve the best interests of nobody. Not the fans, not the players, not even the owners and certainly not that of the game.

      • djpostl - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:12 PM

        “but don’t assume he had dictatorial powers” you mean like invoking the same “best interests of baseball clause he is mulling using to punish Arod?

        Your entire argument is “he works for the owners bla bla” or “there wasn’t much he could do”.

        On the first..yes. EXACTLY. he was complicit in all of this because owners like how revenues were exploding due to the long ball and he played the role of their lackey. How does this make him less of a jackass for now acting as if he is a noble guy “cleaning up the game”?

        On the second…bullshit. He could have invoked the best interests clause, taken it to the court of public opinion versus the union and so on. But he chose to not do it in favor of everyone padding their pockets. Please refer to my “lackey plus hypocrite” from above.

      • gloccamorra - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:04 AM


        My argument is NOT ‘he works for the owners’ OR ‘there’s nothing the Commisioner could do’, it’s BOTH. The “best Interests” clause is RARELY used, because it’s a nuclear option that requires pretty close to unanimous support, not one guy’s conviction. Don’t be so defensive throwing expletives around when someone disagrees with you.

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