Bud Selig has done the impossible, twice. He had the players on his side. Now, Selig’s ego could bring division where there was solidarity.
Selig worked against the most stubborn, anti-drug testing players association in sports and forced them to accept the stiff, highly punitive joint drug agreement. He was masterful in riding government and public pressure. He knew Donald Fehr and the Major League Baseball Players Association was in an untenable situation. Selig allowed them to hang themselves.
After getting what he wanted, Selig should have recognized the newfound gold in his hand. The gold had a name: Michael Weiner. Michael Weiner was shocking as the new executive director of the Players Association in that he had no ego. His goal wasn’t a dream to put his stamp on the MLBPA. He didn’t come in with startling promises he had little chance to achieve. He just did what was best for the players without ever forgetting the game is most important.
Michael Weiner knew that PEDs were bad for the game, potentially worse for the user and worst for the non-user who’s struggling with the question “to do it” or “not do it.” Instead of squelching debate from within the union like Fehr did, Weiner protected potential users from themselves and allowed the staunch anti-PED player to have a loud voice. Bud Selig didn’t necessarily have the support of the players, Michael Weiner did. Weiner believed he negotiated a fair deal to rid the game of PEDs.
One of the keys of the deal is confidentiality. An aspect of the deal that Selig’s ego just couldn’t allow him to follow. The entire sport of baseball is supposed to be the last bastion of class in sports. Instead, Bud Selig acted like Yasiel Puig.
Instead of following the protocol set in the joint drug agreement, Selig sent a baseball representative to make a statement to 60 Minutes. The CBS news show had an extensive interview with Alex Rodriguez’s PED provider. MLB crushed A-Rod in front of the arbitrator and won their case but they had to show him up too.
This is no longer about A-Rod, who is the most unsympathetic person in baseball history. MLB paid for evidence. MLB may have paid for stolen evidence. MLB protected drug dealers in order to go after bigger fish. MLB did a lot of things that went beyond what anyone thought was possible in order to rid the game of cheaters. Due to the Melky Cabrera contract, the arrogant Ryan Braun denials and the existence of A-Rod on the planet, the players accepted the any means necessary. The MLBPA went to extraordinary lengths and the thanks they get is MLB talking to 60 Minutes?
What did you need to say, Bud? Were you really worried the public would rush to A-Rod’s defense? According to a clause in the agreement, MLB had the right to go public to dispel misrepresentations that are said after the arbitration process, but why use the right? MLB had the chance to send a powerful signal to the MLBPA by saying nothing.
The MLBPA would have been much more supportive of future strong-armed actions by Bud Selig if he would have taken the high road. It’s asking a lot of Selig and MLB to do this. A-Rod has cost baseball millions during the investigation and legal fees. He’s an embarrassment to the game. MLB is better with A-Rod not a part of the game. The desire to bury Rodrguez had to be overwhelming and powerful. MLB chose not to be above the fray.
Bud Selig has done many things for the good of the game. He has also been a detriment at times. By talking to 60 Minutes, Bud violated the cardinal rule, he put himself above the game. He wanted revenge but the game didn’t need revenge.
All Selig had to do was ask, “What would Michael do?”