An MLB.com columnist pens a love letter to baseball commissioners

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I long ago abandoned the notion that MLB.com was Pravda or something, which is what I first thought it would be when it started up. The reporting there is very good, and sometimes great. Many of the MLB.com beat writers are much better than the newspaper guys who cover the same beat. Many of the columnists are aces. If they made videos instantly and freely embeddable I’d probably make the place my home page, but let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

But once in a while something shows up over there that makes me scratch my head. A year or two ago there was a five-part “analysis” of some of the labor issues facing baseball. After two parts were published, each of which basically left out the players’ side of the story and seemed to be pretty credulous of the owners’ claims, it abruptly ended.  I’ve always wondered if the reporter who wrote that — a good reporter, by the way — was getting boned by heavy-handed editors and simply said that he couldn’t go on with it. And while it was a rare incident, I have kept it in mind when I read things over there. You just gotta keep your guard up whenever an institution is reporting on itself, as is the case with all of the league websites.

My sensors went off again today with Hal Bodley’s latest column. It reflects on Bud Selig’s legacy in light of the creation of that Commissioner’s Archive I mentioned yesterday which bears his name, and it’s a surprisingly non-critical look at Selig as well as the other Commissioners whose work will be documented there.

According to Bodley, Selig “had to endure the 1994-95 players strike,” when in fact he and like-minded owners fomented it.  He talks about Selig’s early struggles to gain acceptance as Commissioner without acknowledging that, for whatever good things Selig has done since then, he basically took over in a palace coup, which makes his transition problems pretty darn understandable.

Bodley likewise positively spins the work of other Commissioners like Uberroth (he slayed the cocaine dragon!), Kuhn (he and Charlie Finley were nutty!) and Landis (he restored order after the Black Sox Scandal!) without noting that each of them — especially Landis — were just as responsible for baseball’s problems during their reign than they were for advancing the game.  Commissioners are active players with their own agendas and they always have been. They’re not independent, Solomonic leaders.

Do I expect Bodley to viciously rip the Commissioners in an MLB.com piece? No. But A tongue bath is just as inappropriate in my view.

The first native Lithuanian in MLB history made his debut last night

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Why yes, it is a slow news day. But let’s not allow that to take away from some MLB history.

Last night a young man named Dovydas Neverauskas pitched in mopup duty for the Pirates, who were getting hammered by the Cubs. Mr. Neverauskas pitched two innings, allowing one run, making him, by default, the most effective pitcher the Pirates sent out there last night.

That’s good, but that’s not what makes it historic. What makes it historic is that Neverauskas is the first person born and raised in Lithuania to make the Majors. Here’s some back story on him from last year’s Futures Game.

Lithuania is known for producing basketball players. Now it has its first major leaguer. Whether he becomes baseball’s Arvydas Sabonis is an open question.

Bumgarner: dirt bike adventure was “definitely not the most responsible decision”

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Madison Bumgarner talked to the press yesterday about his dirt bike injury and its fallout.

While there is some speculation that the Giants may change their approach to Bumgarner’s contract situation at some point as a result of all of this, yesterday Bumgarner noted that the organization has been supportive as have his teammates. He said he apologized to them as well for an act he characterized as “definitely not the most responsible decision.”

As for the wreck itself, Bumgarner was a bit embarrassed to say that it wasn’t the result of doing anything cool or spectacular on the bike. Sounds like he probably just laid the thing down. Guess it makes no real difference given that he’s injured either way, but you’d hope to at least get a cool story out of it. Alas.

Here’s video of him talking to the press. The best and most accurate takeaway from it: when he says “it sucks.” Yep.