The Vlad situation should be shocking; it’s a sad commentary on the state of that franchise, and frankly MLB in general, that it’s not. The Vazquez deal, we were told, was made explicitly to free salary room for Vlad. Apparently not. Why is he now being allowed to walk? Why, as you’ve asked, wasn’t he dealt last year? The Expos are a joke, and these latest shenanigans are undermining the integrity of the entire sport. Who’s to blame? The Montreal situation must be understood within the overall context of MLB economics. As you’ve noted, management and players are so deeply embroiled in a system of mistrust and self-interest that it’s hard to blame either party alone. However, it is the owners’ responsibility to install an honest broker as commissioner, someone who can move beyond this history to establish a bipartisan way forward. Instead we have a divisive figure who has gone out of his w ay to undermine any such cooperation. Instead of creating workgroups with the players to study the economics and fut ure of the game, Selig, for example, organized a unilateral “blue ribbon” commission, and when the result of even this one-sided agglomeration failed to appease all of the owners, it was simply dismissed. Naturally, the players and their powerful uni on a re skeptical and obstructionist in the face of this kind of administration. So the blame, as far as I am concerned, begins with the owners; continues to the players; certainly includes the press–which does a miserable job of pr esenting these issues; moves on to our politicians, who are so busy accepting freebie tickets from the owners (see this week’s suit against the Yankees) that they forget the public interest, irrationally value sports teams, and fail to pass sensible legislation at state and federal levels; and finally to the public, for voting with their pocketbooks and at the polls for this system which puts a needlessly unfair burden upon them, and is undermining the game. So it’s everyone’s fault. These should be great times for baseball. Bar ry Bonds is closing in on Ruth. Football is overly violent, tawdry, and frankly uninteresting. Basketball is losing its cache. But instead of an upsurge fueled by great players and great rivalries and great new venues in Latin America and the Far East, we have a nasty steroid scandal, exploitation of Latin labor, and all of the issues that come from the continued ill will between players and owners.
Posted by YF on 12/8/2003 11:14:39 AM