Jack Clark and Kevin Slaten lash out at the St. Louis sports radio station that fired them

93 Comments

Before we move along to the next chapter of this running drama, let’s review a timeline of events:

  • Jack Clark, a player for the Giants, Cardinals, Red Sox, Padres and Yankees over an 18-year major league career, claims on his CBS Sports 920 radio show in St. Louis that Albert Pujols’ former trainer used to inject the slugger with steroids. Clark says the trainer, Chris Mihlfeld, offered up this info while Mihlfeld and Clark were both on staff with the Dodgers in the late 1990s.
  • Mihlfeld denies Clark’s story in a statement to HBT: “I haven’t even talked to Jack Clark in close to 10 years. His statements are simply not true. I have known Albert Pujols since he was 18 years old and he would never use illegal drugs in any way. I would bet my life on it and probably drop dead on the spot if I found out he has. … Albert and myself have been accused of doing something we didn’t do.”
  • Pujols threatens legal action against Clark and the CBS Sports 920 ownership, insideSTL Enterprises. Clark and his partner Kevin Slaten are fired from the radio station, which had only been on air a week.
  • Clark stands by his claim that Mihlfeld acknowledged injecting Pujols with steroids.

Slaten is now planning to sue insideSTL, writes Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Slaten said he got the termination call from insideSTL president Tim McKernan around midnight.

“I said ‘What?,”’ Slaten said. “He said, ‘We have to do what’s in the best interest of the company.’ I said, ‘You tell me how firing me is in the best interest of the company when you and (WGNU boss Burt Kaufman) said (earlier) that I did nothing wrong.”

Slaten said McKernan told him, “‘I know that, but everybody associated with the show has to go.

“I said, ‘Did you fire the producer? Did you fire yourself, you’re the one who paired us, did you fire yourself?’

There’s plenty more inside-radio stuff in that article. Clark is also upset about the sudden firing:

“I’m still trying to get my knife out of my back from the radio station, the way that was handled,” Clark told the Post-Dispatch. “They did not allow us to go ahead and talk about it, talk to callers. They made us lie and say the phones weren’t working.”

McKernan and insideSTL issued this short written statement on Saturday afternoon: “insideSTL Enterprises, LLC and all related companies would like to make clear that Jack Clark is no longer associated with the company.  Mr. Clark was never employed by insideSTL but rather was an independent contractor.  Any opinions, views or statements made by him strictly reflect his own personal views and do not reflect the views of insideSTL.  insideSTL Enterprises, LLC and any related companies have never asserted and do not assert that Albert Pujols has ever used steroids or any other type of performing enhancing drug.”

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

Getty Images
11 Comments

Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.