Mark Cuban tried a couple of times to get into the MLB owners’ club. He was rebuffed in his initial efforts and then outbid when he had a chance to purchase the Rangers in a bankruptcy auction. After that he seemed to wash his hands of the idea of buying a baseball team.
But he’s still a bit bitter about his dalliances with MLB. Last night he went on “The Tonight Show” and the topic of Alex Rodriguez’s suspension came up. Cuban, while acknowledging that A-Rod should be suspended, believes that MLB is changing the rules in midstream to give him too harsh a penalty. He went on to say that this is baseball’s M.O., as evidenced by how they treated him. And he didn’t mince words about it. Video below. Here’s the money quote, transcribed by The Honest Brew, who alerted me to all of this:
It’s basically become Bud Selig’s “mafia.” He runs it the way he wants to run it… When I was trying to buy the Rangers, it was an open auction. And I sat in there with my good hard-earned money trying to bid and they did everything possible to keep me from buying the team. They had lawyers in their trying to change the rules, they had people trying to put up more money… it was horrible!
I’ll defend MLB this much: the whole idea of an open auction is to get the most money, so the idea that they “had people trying to put up more money” comes off as a bit of a hollow complaint. Maybe there was a sense that the league was ganging up on him, I have no idea, but at the time Cuban was quoted as saying, basically, that he walked away from the auction because the money got too high for him.
The overall sentiment, though? Maybe “mafia” is too strong a word, but when you’re armed with an anti-trust exemption and your entire reign is built on the idea of building a consensus among mostly compliant owners, I have little doubt that Selig and his crew worked extra hard to make sure that Mark Cuban didn’t join the club.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉