First, I need to correct an error from a couple of days ago. I said then that my math had the Red Sox record at 306-194 during their 500-game sellout streak. The “Houston gentleman” who is a font of sports stats sent along the following e-mail:
“Going back to May 15, 2003 when the Red Sox streak began, they are 327-173 according to an AP article.”
I suspect the reference to the AP article is there at least in part to make me feel better about my math errors. I am also sure that he has this information in some database that he maintains just because…
The big baseball news is that Donald Fehr has announced that he will step down as the head of the MLBPA before the start of the next baseball season. Tell the truth; are you going to miss his highly entertaining presence at news conferences and Congressional hearings in the future? I shall not. Many people think that Donald Fehr is a towering figure in the sporting world who has made things better as a result of his actions. I agree that he is a towering figure; and in a sense, he has been hugely successful representing his “clients” – the baseball players. I have never thought – nor do I think now in the afterglow of his retirement announcement – that he has made things better.
Financially, the baseball players have thrived under Donald Fehr’s leadership; there is no question about it. The average salary in baseball has risen about 1000% in the last 25 years. Would that a similar situation had obtained with me for the final 25 years of my career… In that dimension, Donald Fehr was supremely successful and beneficial to his clients. A cynic might say that the fact that Donald Fehr’s recompense was tied to the average salary of a baseball player explains his seeming monomaniacal focus on that aspect of his job to the exclusion of most others. But perhaps that hypothetical cynic is indeed a realist…
Outside his singularly outstanding area of success – compensation for the players – Donald Fehr was an obstructionist. You can blame a lot of people for averting their eyes as steroid use – - an illegal practice since the substances being used were illegal substances – - crept into baseball and spread like soft butter throughout the game. Nonetheless, as soon as someone began to suggest testing the players, it was Donald Fehr who came up with the argument that it would be an invasion of their privacy for the players to subject themselves to testing. That same stance is still in vogue when it comes to blood testing which is why there is no testing for human growth hormone at this time. Know that such an argument is fabricated; there are jobs/professions in the US where employees can be tested randomly for drugs as a condition of their employment. I once had such a job…
Maybe the fact that steroids got players bigger contracts and that put more money in the Fehr checking account came into play there? I don’t know; I don’t read minds. I do know that with his obstructionism he delayed testing several years, which maintained a workplace for his clients that was more dangerous to their long-term health than it had to be. Continued steroid use outside of a physician’s supervision can really damage a human organism. Donald Fehr caused that situation to obtain and to flourish longer than it needed to.
Let me get a couple other things out on the table here. The infamous list of 104 players who failed drug tests in 2003 that was never to be made public resided with the MLBPA. If it was indeed the MLBPA’s sworn duty to maintain the anonymity and privacy of those 104 members of the MLBPA, then it was the union that failed. If Donald Fehr is to receive accolades for advancing union causes, he needs to take a major shot for this debacle.
Oh, and by the way, it was Donald Fehr – - NOT Bud Selig – - who “cancelled the 1994 World Series”. It was the players who walked out on the season in the middle of 1994; the owners did not lock them out. It was the players who did not return to work in time for a World Series. Donald Fehr made that happen; it was in his power to avoid that happenstance; he led the union in such a way that there was no World Series.
Nepotism seems not to bother Donald Fehr all that much either. His brother has been one of the “day-to-day negotiators” of the last two CBAs with the owners. I doubt that DeMaurice Smith’s son is the CFO for the NFL Players Union…
I had hoped that one day Donald Fehr might have to resign under some kind of cloud of impropriety because I wanted to use as the headline for that day’s rant, “Fehr Strikes Out”. That won’t happen now. Too bad. So allow me to reiterate something that I have said before about Donald Fehr and his sidekick, Gene Orza:
Fehr and Orza are – indisputably – four letter words.
Recall a few years ago when the NCAA political correctness tribunal decided that the College of William and Mary would be allowed to retain its nickname – The Tribe – but that it had to change its logo because it had two feathers depicted on the logo that might offend someone somewhere. As a result, the school is in the process of coming up with a new mascot to go along with a new logo and it is hard for a mascot – singular – to be a tribe – plural. There have been several hundred suggestions made to the College President; one of the suggestions is a spear of asparagus. That would be a good idea since that would not offend any vegans anywhere. It would also be a good mascot because they could dress him/her up as a spear and have the costume designed such that the asparagus had a cheese sauce on it. With William and Mary’s colors being green and gold, that would look right.
In case you aren’t buying any of that, neither am I. Having an asparagus spear as a mascot is no better than having an animated flake of dandruff as a mascot.
Finally, Scott Ostler posed a series of rhetorical questions in a recent column in the SF Chronicle: [I really like the last one…]
“We can put a man on the moon, so why can’t the man be Jose Canseco?”
“If A-Rod is suffering from exhaustion, where’s his cousin?”
“If a winning team helps build community spirit and morale in hard times, shouldn’t a lousy team be declared a menace to society?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…