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.
The Athletics have hired former MLB manager Matt Williams, the team announced Friday. Williams will take over third base coaching duties under manager Bob Melvin, filling the vacancy left by Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale after the 2017 season.
Williams is no stranger to the Bay Area, but this will be his first time sporting the green and gold. He got his start in pro ball with the rival Giants in 1987, where he manned third base and collected four All-Star nominations before jumping ship to the American League in 1997. After a one-year stint in the Indians’ organization, he returned to the NL to finish off his 17-season career and eventually hung up his cleats with the Diamondbacks in 2003.
Post-retirement, Williams has crafted a resume that almost over-qualifies him for a coaching gig. He led the Nationals to a cumulative 179-145 record from 2014 to 2015 and earned props as NL Manager of the Year after bringing the team to a first-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he split the season as a first and third base coach in the D-backs’ organization, then accepted a studio analyst position with the Giants for the 2017 season. Although he has yet to suit up for the Athletics in any role, he’s not unfamiliar with skipper Bob Melvin. The two were teammates on the Giants’ 1987-88 roster and spent some time in Arizona together when Melvin took a coaching job there in the early 2000s.
While next year’s reunion will be fun to watch (unless, I suppose, you’re a Giants fan with a long memory), Williams may not have his sights set on a coaching role forever. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea reported back in July, the 51-year-old knows what it feels like to win as a manager, and it’s a position he might be open to pursuing in the future.
“For me, my most comfortable space is in uniform,” he told Shea. “I’ve done the ownership thing and front-office stuff, and that’s fun. The most gratification I get is swinging a fungo and throwing batting practice and being on the field. It’s what you know and love. I look at myself as a teacher first and foremost. At the end of the day, I think that’s how I have my greatest influence.”