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Bud Selig could probably do whatever he wanted with Donald Sterling if he were in charge

Apr 29, 2014, 8:49 AM EDT

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

Some interesting words from former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, who had to deal with Marge Schott back in his day. Schott, you may recall, dropped N-words on her stars Eric Davis and Dave Parker, praised the good works of Adolf Hitler and was generally the worst person ever. But Vincent thinks Sterling is worse:

“What she said was egregious, but what he said was probably worse,” Vincent, 75, told Bloomberg News. “There’s a question of where you draw the line. In this case with what this guy did and probably in Marge Schott’s case, you’re well over the line.”

Part of why Vincent thinks Sterling is worse is that Schott was a raging alcoholic and a more tragic and pathetic figure while Sterling is, presumably, saying the things he’s saying with a clear head and clear eyes. Your mileage may vary about how that all works, but I can at least see Vincent’s point. Another thing he says:

“You have to start with the proposition that the commissioner works for the owners, and for him to be disciplining the owners is a very awkward circumstance,” Vincent said.

It may have been awkward for Vincent as he never had the confidence of the other owners. But by the time Schott was actually disciplined it was Bud Selig calling the shots. And the single most important thing Selig ever did was to create a consensus among the owners and never do anything unless or until he had them in his corner. By doing this over a number of years, Selig has gained their trust to a large degree and could, I believe anyway, take unilateral action against an owner without ruffling too many feathers if he needed to.  Whether Silver can do this in the NBA after a couple months on the job is an open question.

  1. cur'68 - Apr 29, 2014 at 8:55 AM

    Right now it would be politic to be SEEN doing something as opposed to seen doing nothing but kissing butt. That’s step 1. Step 2 use the public reaction to step 1 to ACTUALLY do something. Sterling’s a disgrace to the NBA brand. He’s hurting sales and harming the product. That should be sufficient motivation to get going on punting him as far as possible from the NBA.

    • Francisco (FC) - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      The sponsors are fleeing the clippers in droves. Wait, how did I teleport into PBT?

      • natstowngreg - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        You accidentally clicked on the “PBT” button. No problem, with more than 50 buttons on one Web page, these things can happen.

  2. stoutfiles - Apr 29, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    Their horrible character is about the same, so let’s look at the most important stat a fan cares about. Reds won a World Series with Schott. Clippers have been one of the worst franchises in all of sports under Sterling and haven’t come close to winning anything.

    Schott wins.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      I don’t know enough about Marge Schott, so this may be completely wrong, but I do know that Sterling actually acts upon his views. He’s long been accused, and even found in court, of highly discriminatory renting practices in the buildings he owns. He is a bonafide slum lord.

  3. tfbuckfutter - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Oh dammit.

    Bet Sterling goes to rehab. Such a obvious step.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      *nursing home

      FTFY

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        That should have been his punishment.

        That he gets put in a home with black nurses.

        But that might have been an overreach.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        He likes black nurses…unless you meant male nurses…who like to take selfies with him.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        Not to get all assumption-y….but I’m guessing male nurses trip a different irritation in him altogether.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:50 PM

        Envy?

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:54 PM

        No, Envy is what he thinks all black women are named.

  4. whatacrocker - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    Why does EVERYONE misspell Adolf Hitler’s name? I don’t get it–it’s like spelling ‘Osama’ as ‘Osammah.’

    • tfbuckfutter - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:20 AM

      Yeah!

      Show some respect.

      • thedoubleentandres - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:34 AM

        I actually guffawed at this, getting strange looks in work.

    • whatacrocker - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      I would understand if someone misspelled the name of someone a bit more obscure, like Joseph Kony or Reza Pahlavi. But surely anyone who has done so much as graduate high school in the United States has seen Hitler’s name in print hundreds of times, no?

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        Who are you calling Shirley?

    • whatacrocker - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      I observe that the spelling has now been corrected. Unlike, say, Dog Fister.

  5. sdelmonte - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    I guess there is no secret constitution for the owners in MLB. So odd to me that the rules for being an owner are secret, but it’s not like they have any obligation to share such things with the world.

  6. [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    By doing this over a number of years, Selig has gained their trust to a large degree and could, I believe anyway, take unilateral action against an owner without ruffling too many feathers if he needed to.

    While I can’t speak for MLB at the time, NBA royalty are speaking out publicly against Sterling. The best player in the NBA [Lebron] stated there was no room for this type of person in the NBA. Magic Johnson has said that he and his wife are boycotting all future Clipper’s games (and unfortunately said he’s not interested in buying the team). Hell, even Michael “Republicans wear Nikes too” Jordan lambasted Sterling, never mind owners like the Houston Rockets [Leslie Alexander] want Sterling gone.

    • chip56 - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:36 AM

      And there in lies the problem for the NBA right now. The players are giving Silver one option and that’s to force the sale of the Clippers and by all rights that’s not an avenue open to him based on the guidelines of ownership.

      Owners will not allow the league to force you to sell over matters of public relations because of the slippery slope argument. If Sterling can be forced out for his remarks can Dolan be forced out over the claims that he allowed sexual harassment to go on within the organization, can Cuban be forced out for being an epic turd?

      As for the players – it’s hyperbole. End of the day, if LeBron were a free agent and the Clippers had the best offer on the table James would be happy to take the deal. He may not want to break bread with Sterling, but that won’t stop him from taking the money. But again, that’s not isolated to the NBA.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        End of the day, if LeBron were a free agent and the Clippers had the best offer on the table James would be happy to take the deal.

        Easy part first. This isn’t necessarily true, especially when Lebron isn’t making a max contract with the Heat. He took less money so they could create the Lebron/Wade/Bosh megateam (never mind that incumbant teams can offer an additional year over others, but I digress).

        Owners will not allow the league to force you to sell over matters of public relations because of the slippery slope argument.

        Therein lies the problem, and it’s one that the NBA, and by extension, David Stern created. Sterling’s problems aren’t new, but the NBA never cared to do anything about it. At the same time, they instituted dress codes for the players, mandatory rookie camps with expulsions if you break rules, huge fines for criticizing officials/talking during the lockout, etc.

        The best thing for the NBA would be if Rochelle Sterling filed for divorce and took half his assets. With an estimated guess of $750M+ value for the Clippers, there’s no way Sterling has enough assets in hand to offer half AND keep the team. But she’s not, and let’s not even get into that joke of a lawsuit she brought that’s been badly misinterpreted by almost every major news source (hint: embezzlement is never said in that entire lawsuit).

      • chip56 - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:54 AM

        I didn’t say if the Clippers put the most money on the table, I said best offer – which can mean that they pitch, “hey LeBron, come here, we’ll pay you a lot of money and you can play on a competing team with great young talents like CP3, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan”

        Second, your divorce plan has merit but it also has flaws:
        1. If his wife wasn’t willing to file for divorce over him being a racist, slumlord and having public affairs with this woman in the first place, my guess is that the world finding out that he’s a racist d-bag isn’t going to push her over the edge.

        2. Remember how bad it was for MLB when the McCourts were embroiled in a long, bitter divorce and fighting over control of the Dodgers.

      • stoutfiles - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        ” can Cuban be forced out for being an epic turd?”

        This is why Cuban is not supporting getting rid of Sterling. He knows he has a big mouth and could be the next one in trouble.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:14 AM

        Cuban is certainly a turd, and annoys me a lot, especially as a Lakers fan, but being an avid Shark Tank fan, he is just kind of wired that way. He is an intense Type A personality. He has a big mouth, but his big mouth is more about whining about officiating or talking up his own team. I have a hard time seeing him getting caught talking about how he doesn’t want to be associated with minorities. He’s too smart of a guy to hold views that ignorant.

      • chip56 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        I agree that Cuban isn’t likely to do the same thing Sterling did, but there are other ways to damage the league’s public face than by being a racist. He could be involved in shady business dealings that come to light, could say (or do) something else that could shine a negative spotlight…etc.

        The key thing here is that this isn’t about the way Sterling ran the organization (which was deplorable), this is, for lack of a better term, a PR problem for the NBA. My guess is that Stern would have fined him, significantly, and maybe hit him with the loss of a draft pick. He would have then dealt with the poop storm that would be stirred up by the NBAPA and known that in a few months it would go away.

        I’m not saying that’s the correct way to handle it, just the way he would have handled it.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        1. If his wife wasn’t willing to file for divorce over him being a racist, slumlord and having public affairs with this woman in the first place, my guess is that the world finding out that he’s a racist d-bag isn’t going to push her over the edge.

        Well that’s because the wife was party to the lawsuits. She would show up to people’s houses claiming to be a gov’t agent and would inspect the properties. She’s also been married to him for 50+ years, and Sterling doesn’t exact hide his philandering ways, so she’s aware of that too.

        She could also see the writing on the wall, and want out. It’d be a great way to make some money.

      • chip56 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        Waiting for him to die is also a great way to make some money. Again, my guess is that divorce isn’t part of the solution.

  7. chacochicken - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    I suspect Selig would just try and outlive him then declare victory.

    • jwbiii - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      As soon as that committee resolves the A’s stadium/feces situation, Selig would task them with the Sterling problem

  8. thekingdave - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    Maybe I missed it but have you done a post on Bryant Gumbel lumping Astros owner Jim Crane in with Sterling based solely on an EEOC suit from almost 15 years ago in which the majority of the claims’ payments were returned? The Astros had a lengthy response basically invalidating everything Gumbel ran with.

  9. chip56 - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    I think it would depend on what Selig wanted to do. If he wanted to suspend Sterling for a year he could probably swing it. If he wanted to try and force Sterling to step down as owner (either transfer ownership to his family or sell outright) I doubt he could do it.

    It would also depend on how much juice Sterling had with the rest of the league’s owners. Let’s not forget, Jeff Loria destroyed professional baseball in Montreal and not only was he not run out of the league but the league facilitated his purchase of the Marlins. To me, in terms of ownership issues that a league should address, that’s bigger than Sterling being a racist because it calls into question the credibility of the league rather than just the credibility of one owner.

  10. genericcommenter - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    David Stern is responsible for Sterling, and he fit in with Stern’s whitewash agenda. Stern’s NBA rule was based on the general underlying sentiment of people like Stern, and he left Adam Silver to deal with the fallout. Anyone who has a serious problem with Sterling should also question Stern, as Sterling’s issues have been reported for decades. I always find it interesting when there’s a tipping point and one things sets off public awareness, when the evidence for something has been around forever. If you read certain blogs or have been exposed to certain things in your life, and then you find things you’ve known about for 20 years finally breakthrough and get some attention, it’s always a little baffling to me.

    And often, the media/insiders themselves were fully aware of something and then only after it becomes popular to take a stance, then they pile on- like, you know, PEDs- when the same guys paling around with open PED users are all of a sudden just outraged over the thing. And I’m going to throw Selig in here- his handling (no matter which “side” you come down on the PED issue) of the whole situation really doesn’t get enough criticism. This also applies a lot to political movements, candidates, and activists. It’s funny when semi-known politicians do something in the 80s or 90s that everyone in their circle is fully aware of and then some media “breaks” a story 20 years later and a whole bunch of people try to distance themselves and act shocked, even when they were on the payroll or involved in certain operations.

    Sterling’s been known for at the very least being a terrible jerk for 30 years and stories about horribly he treats people and his expressed views have been covered for years. But he’s an owner and part of that class, the one where he perceives that his reputation will be sullied if his black girlfriends associate with black men, the same type of fear that has sports commissioners insist their black players do not display any individual behavior that would make a National Alliance member upset.

    • chip56 - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      Well that’s the biggest problem for Silver right now is that Stern left him with a turd sandwich to deal with.

      Stern had an iron fist when it came to reporting about the NBA and very few scandals ever saw the light of day. Stern had plenty of opportunities to cut Sterling off at the knees but never did because doing so would have created a bigger story. Now it’s Silver’s problem.

      • jm91rs - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        Instead of cutting Sterling off at the knees he handed him Chris Paul on a silver platter. They enabled this man.

      • chip56 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:09 AM

        Interestingly – if you look over on ProBasketballtalk – there’s a report that says Doc Rivers will step down as head coach and team president if Sterling is allowed to remain owner of the team.

      • chip56 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:14 AM

        I’m also reading that Silver may consider allowing all the players to opt out of their contracts following the season.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        I highly doubt they let the players out of their contracts. That’s big talk, but it would be very easy for Sterling to win a lawsuit on that. Besides, that would be punishing the Clippers fans more than anyone else. Sterling turned profits with awful teams for years, I don’t think it would bother him as much as people seem to think. The Clippers may not have many fans, but a lot of them suffered through those awful teams and it doesn’t necessarily seem fair to punish them. As much as I dislike the Clippers.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        Yikes went to PBT to see what you were referencing about Doc, ProBasketballPundit isn’t exactly playing with a full deck is he?

      • chip56 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        not in the slightest

  11. RoyHobbs39 - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    So you are basically saying Bud has such a long history of doing whatever is best for the owners of baseball that if one time he wanted to punish one of the owners for something so despicable, they would let him. Unfortunately that makes sense.

    Why do I keep thinking letting Mark Cuban in would shake things up? And oddly, not in the favor of the owners. He is obnoxious, egotistic, and screams “Look at me!”. But he usually has the overall interests of his sport in mind.

    • yahmule - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      Mark Cuban has the best interests of Mark Cuban in mind, first, last and only.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        Yes, but as an owner, the overall interests of the league are also typically in the best interests of Mark Cuban.

  12. phillyguyindc - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    Seling would probably bring lawsuits against everyone who resisted hellping him oust Sterling and then drop them once Sterling is ousted.

  13. chill1184 - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    “Bud Selig could probably do whatever he wanted with Sterling….”

    Pretty much and thats why Fred Wilpon and Jeff Loria continue to own MLB teams.

    • yahmule - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:37 AM

      And Frank McCourt has to trudge through waist high money just to get to the bathroom.

  14. yahmule - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Sterling is worse than Schott as he has purposefully taken actions to hurt people. He’s a vindictive unrepentant slumlord, while she inherited her fortune from her husband’s car dealerships.

  15. koufaxmitzvah - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    Sterling is worse because he kicked people out of his buildings and refused to house to whom he considered undesirable. Marge Schott was a disgusting woman, but what could she do to society? Not sell them a car?

    Sterling evicted old, black women who had no other place else to live. He refused to care for their plumbing, and allowed his tenants to live in filth until they couldn’t take it any longer, and all of this was proven in the court of law.

    What a freaking scumbag.

    • unclemosesgreen - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      this

    • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      I firmly believe that one of the reasons we cannot get past a lot of disparity in our society is because of housing issues. This has been one of the greatest difficulties for us to address and we have largely failed at correcting it. One of the problems is the way tenant-landord laws are written. In most places, there is no enforcement of decent housing standards, and renters are additionally burdened with being required to pay for a dispute — and these are often decided by judges who are willing to let landlords get away with providing the most deplorable conditions. HUD funding that is supposed to provide affordable housing gets hijacked and that agency is entirely lacking in the kind of leadership necessary for the task at hand. In the end, however, there is an utter lack of public will to uphold standards so that our countrymen (and women) can have safe and secure places to live and raise families. This should be a fundamental entitlement, in my opinion. I am bitter from years in enforcement trying to make a difference. It’s hard not to believe that people are intentionally, cruelly blind on the issue.

  16. yahmule - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    Fay Vincent had three strikes against him.

    Strikes one and two: He wasn’t Bart Giamatti, but he took a lot of criticism over Giamatti’s ban of Pete Rose. It was different time and Rose used to have a lot of support.

    Strike three: He wasn’t a pawn of ownership, which is a slow form of suicide for any commissioner.

  17. moogro - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Sterling runs full page ads in the Los Angeles Times every other day telling the world how awesome he is with charitable stuff. Hmm…What’s that all about?

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      It’s all pomp and circumstance, he’s never actually done the things he says he does. The LA Times knows it, and is just as complicit in it as him, IMHO.

  18. ud1951 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Frankly I think the wealthy former athletes (Magic, Shaq, Larry Johnson) who are publicly criticizing Sterling should put together an offer to buy the team off him.

    • largebill - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      Magic & Shaq yes. Larry Johnson maybe not so much. Seem he has some racist tendencies himself. Apparently, he thinks there should be an all black basketball league.

  19. Jonny 5 - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    The most the NBA commish can do is suspend Sterling from attending games, and/or any team activities. So expect a suspension. Also expect the NBA to suggest the team be sold and that’s about all they can do here.

  20. yahmule - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Lifetime ban for the slumlord.

    • yahmule - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-sn-watch-live-nba-donald-sterling-20140429-dto,0,1366821.story#axzz30Ik5zC5N

    • raysfan1 - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      Yep, just saw the TV news break. Lifetime ban, $2.5M fine, and the commissioner has asked the Board of Governors (ie the other owners) to force him to sell.

      I imagine PBT is exploding about now.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 29, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        Zomg what about his first amendment rights?!?!? ARGLEBARGLE!??!?

        Sincerely,

        Someone who can’t read the Constitution

  21. shadowcell - Apr 29, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Most any commissioner could do whatever they wanted if they had to deal with this whole Sterling episode. Sterling is a slumlord with a long history of racism and bigotry, and this latest episode is costing the team (and thus the league) sponsors and PR goodwill. Adam Silver wouldn’t be dropping the hammer if he didn’t have the rest of the owners on his side, but it’s hard to believe he–or any other commissioner–wouldn’t have the owners on his side when Sterling is such a disgusting pustule of a human being.

  22. disgracedfury - Apr 29, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    David Stern created Sterling and Bud Selig created A-Rod.See what we have here is just owners and Commissioners cleaning the mess they created and acting like they are innocent and didn’t know anything.

    Also Schlott had a horrible life some was her fault but she was a sad figure than a evil slumlord like Steling.

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