Selig Legitimized Castro Far More Than Guillen

As much as we despise the murderous Castro brothers regime that’s plunged Cuba into darkness for over a half-century, we couldn’t help but empathize with oft-hyperbolic Ozzie Guillen after his regrettable comments about Fidel Castro in this week’s TIME.

(’Laughing’ Angelos: Cubans escaping mass murderer “would’ve marred trip”)

You see, Guillen was merely toeing the MLB party line on Castro, which has long been set by his ultimate boss, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

It was Selig, along with current Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who relentlessly lobbied an unsympathetic United States Government in the ’90s to allow them to stage a game between the Cuban national team and the Orioles in Havana.

The game, shamefully, eventually became reality on March 28, 1999, and was actually televised by ESPN at the time.

Peter Angelos, Fidel Castro, Bud Selig in Havana March 28, 1999

(Did Everyone Get a Gold-Plated Glock Under Their Seat?)

In the history of Fidel and Raúl Castro’s reign of terror, there’s a case to be made that nothing has done more to legitimize their python-like grip over the island nation than co-opting America’s National Pastime that day.

In the aftermath of Guillen’s five-game suspension by the Marlins for his comments about Castro, today Selig issued the following statement on behalf of Major League Baseball:

Major League Baseball supports today’s decision by the Marlins to suspend Ozzie Guillen. As I have often said, Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities. All of our 30 Clubs play significant roles within their local communities, and I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game’s many cultures deserve. Mr. Guillen’s remarks, which were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world, have no place in our game.

Coincidence we’re sure that apparently Selig forgot to leave out exactly why Guillen’s comments were so offensive as to merit a significant suspension of a sitting major league manager.

 (”Socially Responsible” Selig: Cuban Despot “Humble” and “Fascinating”)

Or why the same “social institution with important social responsibilities,” while on his watch, actively embraced being a featured centerpiece of what turned out to be a masterstroke of Castro propaganda - masqueraded as a 1999 baseball game backed by the full faith and credit of Selig’s Major League Baseball.

And while now-profusely apologetic Guillen is shamed to the ends of the earth, Fidel Castro’s Selig-enabled finest hour continues to serve its purpose over two decades later - thanks to the well-circulated photo of Selig, Angelos and the mass murderer, seated together in the front row of perhaps the first capacity crowd in history to watch a major sporting event by invitation only. (We say “perhaps” on the off chance Hitler sold GA seats for the ‘36 Olympics.)

Selig keeps up appearances: No mention of Castro in Guillen condemnation

(Why Didn’t Selig Mention Evil Dictator In MLB’s Guillen Release?)

The current public excoriation of Guillen is particularly ironic considering the media, baseball establishment and public took a complete pass on Guillen after he made almost identical comments about Castro to Rick Telander of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES four years ago.

Not to mention the same media, baseball establishment and public lodging nary a protest as Selig and Castro joined blood-stained hands in ‘99 … with one major exception.

48 hours before the Orioles game in Cuba in 1999, Mike Phillips of the MIAMI HERALD reported comments from Florida Marlins Owner John Henry at the time that could not be construed as anything other than withering criticism.

Highlights of the invective aimed by Henry at his baseball colleagues from the March 26, 1999 Herald article:

The loudest voice against the Baltimore Orioles’ exhibition in Cuba on Sunday may not be coming from a protester with a bullhorn but from the owner of the Florida Marlins, who is almost insulted baseball has allowed the game to happen.`

`The major problem here is ignorance,” says John W. Henry, who bought the Marlins two months ago. “People are not aware of the depth of oppression in Cuba. If they were, no one would support this game.”

Major League Baseball called Henry this week and asked if he would like to attend the game. Henry said he almost couldn’t believe it.

“I declined,” Henry said. “I’m opposed to the game, and the Marlins organization is opposed to this game.”

Henry was somewhat upset that baseball didn’t call him before it approved the game, but even more upset that baseball didn’t ask the players.

“It’s disappointing that baseball didn’t consider asking the Cuban-American players how they feel about the game,” Henry said.

The Marlins have several players and coaches who were either born in Cuba or whose parents were born in Cuba. To a man, they are vehemently against the game.

“Obviously, the Florida Marlins should be the team playing a game in Cuba, if the game in Cuba were the right thing to do. But it’s not the right thing to do,” Henry said.

Henry said someone should have contacted the Marlins.

“What is the percentage of our community that is Cuban-American? Virtually every Cuban-American is a baseball fan,” Henry said, making his point that no one considered the South Florida Cuban community when the decision was being made.

Henry has been out of the country the past week, but he returned Thursday. Last week, Henry met with protesters who showed up at Fort Lauderdale Stadium for a Marlins-Orioles exhibition.

“I wanted them to know I support them, that we support them,” he said.

Henry was also critical Thursday of Orioles chief operating officer Joe Foss, who downplayed the protests at (Orioles Spring Home) Fort Lauderdale Stadium by saying there were only 250 protesters in a crowd of 4,000.

“If [Foss] were to go to Miami-Dade County and ask the man on the street how he felt, I think he would see it’s a much larger percentage than he is aware of,” Henry said.

In his aforementioned comments to the Chicago Sun-Times four years ago, Guillen said, “He’s a bull—- dictator and everybody’s against him, and he still survives, has power.’’

Sound familiar, baseball fans?

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

Exclusive: MLB Wants AEG LA Downtown Ballpark

On July 20, 2011, in a Delaware bankruptcy court, current Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball legal representatives will present competing plans for interim financing for the club.

FRANKenstein Monster & Dr. Selig

(Bud Selig as Dr. Frankenstein)

While MLB contends it already has the right to seize the team from McCourt, who recently revealed the club is now $525 million in debt, Commissioner Bud Selig is clearly wary of a legal challenge from the Dodger team owner Selig handpicked to buy the team in 2004 for $430 million despite McCourt putting up only $9 million in cash.

Another reason MLB has yet to strongarm McCourt: He owns the land where the Dodgers currently do business.

After McCourt’s 2004 bid was selected by Selig over a L.A. Times-reported $430 million cash offer for the club by Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad, the Boston native and his wife Jamie McCourt split the team and surrounding acreage into separate business entities. At the time, McCourt’s hyper-leveraged purchase of the MLB franchise was valued at $330 million, with the accompanying real estate pegged at $100 million.

McCourt’s savvy business move means that even if Selig seizes the heritage baseball franchise from the Frankenstein monster he himself created, the league - and next owner of the team - could wind up with McCourt as its landlord.

That factual backdrop explains why in the past 48 hours multiple sources have confirmed to me that MLB has reached out to AEG to inquire about the possibility of the company assisting the league - and the next permanent owner of the team - in building a downtown ballpark for the Dodgers. Read more…

Selig Forced FRANKenstein Monster On Dodgers

As Los Angeles Dodgers fans celebrate the demise of Frank McCourt’s appalling stewardship of the Dodgers the past seven years, somehow Bud Selig has emerged in the media as a heroic figure swooping in to save the day.

FRANKenstein Monster & Dr. Selig

(Dr. Selig: No Choice Now But To Slay His Very Own L.A. Creation)

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It was Selig who, in January 2004, ignored a nearly all-cash $430 million offer for the Dodgers by local L.A. billionaire business magnate Eli Broad after MLB owners initially refused to ratify McCourt’s purchase of the Dodgers from News Corp. at the same price.

On Jan. 28, 2004, longtime LOS ANGELES TIMES baseball writer Ross Newhan noted the following as part of the newspaper’s timeline chronicling McCourt’s pursuit of the Dodgers:

Jan. 9, 2004: With financing concerns lingering, Selig calls off Jan. 14-15 vote but expects sale to be approved in a conference call before Jan. 31.

The day after that vote was called off, Newhan reported on Jan. 10, 2004:

Selig seldom calls for a vote unless he knows the outcome and it would be a surprise if a conference call produced a rejection, although there has been some speculation that the commissioner — intent on satisfying News Corp.’s determination to sell the team after a protracted process in which negotiations with two other bidders, Dave Checketts and Malcolm Glazer, ultimately broke down — would usher it through the full course and then let the owners decide if there were reason to be concerned about the financing.

McCourt was not included on Forbes’ most recent list of the 400 richest Americans (requiring a net worth of $600 million) and was a distant loser in bidding for the Boston Red Sox, but he owns valuable waterfront property in Boston that he reportedly is using as collateral in financing the acquisition.

11 days after Selig determined that he did not have the necessary MLB owner votes needed to ratify McCourt’s bid for the Dodgers, Newhan reported in the L.A. Times on Jan 20, 2004:

[Los Angeles developer and billionaire philanthropist Eli] Broad, whose net worth has been estimated at $3.8 billion, notified News Corp. (Dodgers Owners) Chairman Peter Chernin by letter last Wednesday that he was willing to offer the same $430 million if McCourt’s deal fell through.

His involvement, coming at the urging of Mayor James K. Hahn and former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley, among others, seemed to amplify concern in and out of baseball about McCourt’s ability to operate the Dodgers at an acceptable level and about the fact that he is proposing to invest little or none of his own money, with News Corp. loaning him almost half the $430 million.

McCourt needs three-fourths approval of the 30 owners, but the ownership committee has yet to recommend approval or rejection, and Commissioner Bud Selig has yet to schedule a conference call during which owners would vote on the sale.

Selig seldom puts an issue up for a vote unless he knows the outcome, which in most cases is to rubber-stamp his desires. ..

.. Whether Selig is determined to have McCourt approved as a favor to News Corp. because of its national and regional TV contracts with baseball or whether he would let owners reject the sale, feeling that he could tell News Corp. that he had done everything he could, isn’t clear.

If Selig’s intentions weren’t clear at that point, perhaps they should’ve been.

On Oct. 12, 2003, four months before MLB owners balked at approving McCourt’s stewardship of the Dodgers, ESPN.com reported of Selig’s stance on McCourt’s future ownership of the storied Los Angeles franchise:

A day after News Corp. reached an agreement in principle to sell the Dodgers to Boston real estate magnate Frank McCourt for $430 million, MLB commissioner Bud Selig expressed confidence the deal would be completed despite questions about whether McCourt had sufficient financial backing.

“I’m not concerned,” Selig said Saturday about the proposed sale that still must be approved in a vote of baseball owners.

McCourt’s financing remains unclear, baseball officials said, and his partnership has not been completed. A report from Boston indicated that McCourt might sell or find development partners for his properties there to help pay for the Dodgers.

Thanks to a report less than a month ago by FORBES magazine, we now know the financing McCourt used to somehow satisfy News Corp’s $430 million asking price - and the approval of Selig and at least 75% of MLB owners. Read more…

Need Baseball Gambling Tips? Ask The Marlins

South Florida sports radio host Andy Slater of 640 AM Sports recently noted on his weekday talk show that the Marlins are currently advertising for a sports handicapper website behind home plate and on television game broadcasts.


From an interview between Bud Selig and Peter Keating in ESPN THE MAGAZINE on April 1, 2011:

The Mag: Let’s talk about gambling. I was watching a Marlins game last year and saw a big ad for a casino on the leftfield wall.

BS: Life has changed. I’m sensitive about this issue, but casino gambling is legal. Any gambling involving baseball, though, is a no-no.

If only Pete Rose had used the “life has changed” defense!

Watch the video.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

Baseball’s “Best Interests”: Watch Dodgers Burn

In an opinion piece titled, “One of baseball’s enduring myths,” published by THE SPORTING NEWS on May 14, 1994, then-acting Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig wrote of the powers of his office as set out by the ubiquitous “best interests of baseball” clause:

Bud Selig and Frank McCourt

The all-power commissioner’ never was an accurate portrayal

The truth is, the Major League Baseball commissioner by definition has never been all-supreme or omnipotent except where public confidence and integrity are concerned. The notion of an almighty commissioner directing the business of baseball is incorrect.

For Dodger fans wondering why Selig hasn’t stepped in to try to clean up the mess that their storied franchise has assuredly become, that would be your answer.

Actually, that was your answer until Selig sent a letter to Texas Rangers ownership eight months ago. Read more…

MLB Threatens To ‘terminate’ Rangers ‘franchise’

The most undercovered story of the summer, and maybe the year, is the outrageous circumstances of the sale of the Texas Rangers.

Bud Selig

(Protip: Do not lend this man money)

Before your eyes glaze over, understand that this story is very important as it pertains to the financial future of individual major league clubs. It also could dictate if the Texas Rangers exist this time next year - if MLB’s rhetoric is to be believed.

If you’ve read this site over the years, you know by now that MLB has done all it could to turn over franchises to owners who either lack the financial resources, as in the McCourts, or the willingness, as in the late Carl Pohlad, to invest Yankee-esque sums into player payroll.

Most recently, MLB handed over one of the crown jewels of its league, the Chicago Cubs, to a highly-leveraged buyer in Tom Ricketts. Ricketts was chosen to take over the team despite his lack of liquidity and inability to field the highest bid for the franchise.

Why? Because MLB doesn’t want the Cubs to end up with a $200 million payroll, which would drive up costs for other owners, contribute to further competitive imbalance and possibly lead to additional labor strife.

Of course, if MLB had a revenue sharing agreement like the NFL, Cubs fans wouldn’t have to worry about having an underfunded owner running their beloved team. (In the third-largest market!) Because of the petty greed of the league’s individual owners, no such revenue sharing plan exists - forcing league commissioner Bud Selig to jury-rig MLB ownership ranks to prevent another Steinbrenner-type owner. (See shooting down Mark Cuban in his bid for the Cubs.)

That brings us to Selig’s latest payroll-chopping opportunity: The Texas Rangers. Read more…

Report: MLB Considering ‘Remedy’ For Joyce Call

Tony Paul of the DETROIT NEWS reports Thursday that the Detroit Tigers “were believed to be preparing to contact the Major League Baseball offices, if they hadn’t done so already, after umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call with two outs in the ninth cost Armando Galarraga the 21st perfect game in major league history Wednesday, and the first by a Tiger.

Jim Joyce Missed Call Costs Armando Galaragga a Perfect Game

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski: “I wouldn’t get into telling you what I would do. That’s a private matter. He shouldn’t have missed it. It’s a shame for the kid.

Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann reports on his MLB.com blog today: Read more…

Padres: Big Cut In Beer Price, World Series Hopes

If you were an underfunded MLB owner with no fans and no future talent on the way because of a sub-par amateur scouting dept., what would you do to draw a crowd?

Padres Announcer Rick Sutcliffe Was Drunk On The Air

(Way ahead of ya)

If you’re the Padres, first thing would be to hire a broadcaster who last did an MLB game during Earth’s most recent episode of glaciation. Then you’d slash ballpark beer prices from an obscene to merely outrageous level.

Michael Stetz of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE has details on the desperate measure.

Read more…

City Of Milwaukee Pigeons Standing At The Ready

The Milwaukee Brewers announced today that a statue of Bud Selig is being cast and will be unveiled at Miller Park in August.

Bud Selig gives himself a statue at Miller Park

Whose idea was it? Tom Haudricourt of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL gives us a clue. Read more…

Panthers VP Hits On Fox Anchor During Interview

• Florida Panthers exec Uri Man shows what kind of man he his by hitting on Fox News anchor Ainsley Earhardt during an on-air interview.

Ainsley Earhardt Uri Man

Bud Selig softening on Pete Rose Hall of Fame ban? Don’t bet on it.

• Ladies & gentlemen, your 2009-10 Sacramento Kings Dance Team!

• And the Jeremy Mayfield meth mess goes on: NASCAR says they have witnesses that saw him do the drug.

• Just because “Zorn” rhymes with “porn”, that doesn’t mean the Redskins coach has ever wanted to seen any.

Read more…