Impolite or not, A-Rod’s “attack” on Michael Weiner is not out-of-bounds

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When Alex Rodriguez’s lawsuit against the MLBPA came to light yesterday, immediate attention went to the allegations that the union and its late Executive Director, Michael Weiner, did not properly defend Alex Rodriguez’s interests. Initially there was surprise, but that surprise is now turning into scorn, as if A-Rod is somehow going after the character and integrity of Weiner. And, what’s more, that it is somehow the lowest of low rent moves due to Weiner’s recent death.

Stuff like this from the New York Post, which implies that his allegations against Weiner are “shocking” and make quick mention of his recent death to imply that they are likewise in poor taste. Stuff like this tweet from Jeff Passan and a couple of references in the linked story invoking Weiner’s death, suggesting that A-Rod’s suit against the union is all the worse — and that A-Rod himself is somehow worse — because the allegations come after his passing.

I’ll state at the outset that there is no one in baseball’s management/executive structure that I have greater respect for than Michael Weiner. The way he went about his job, his success at his job and everything I ever learned about him from people who knew him well suggests that he was a wonderful, honorable man. I’ll further state that, while I may have approached things differently if I were Weiner or MLBPA here, I don’t feel as if A-Rod is going to have a lot of success in his suit against the union and that his claims of it and Weiner’s alleged mistakes are overstated and, legally speaking, are likely insufficient to get him anywhere.

But with that said, I think it’s a but much to go after A-Rod and his lawyer as if they are ghouls here.  Nowhere in the complaint or in their public statements are they attempting to impugn Weiner’s character or worth as a person and nowhere do they reference his health or any other personal matter. They reference his public acts as the Executive Director of the union and take issue with those acts done in his official capacity. This may upset some who remember Weiner fondly and/or who think negatively of A-Rod (i.e. just about everyone) but the allegations are the only way possible to assert claims against the union, which he has a legal right to do and, depending on your view of the results of this case, an obligation to do.

I get that A-Rod is a pariah, but that doesn’t mean he has to forfeit legal arguments available to him. I get that Michael Weiner was a wonderful person, but that doesn’t make him immune from criticism in his official capacity.  To suggest otherwise is evidence of emotional baggage being brought into the matter at the very least and could very well be construed as emotionally manipulative.

However understandable the impulse for such things are, they really don’t have a place in this conversation.

Derek Jeter calls Bryant Gumbel “mentally weak”

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Derek Jeter has not covered himself in glory since taking over the Miami Marlins. His reign atop the team’s baseball operations department has been characterized by the slashing of payroll in order to help his new ownership group make more money amid some pretty crushing debt service by virtue of what was, in effect, the leveraged buyout of the club. A club which is now 5-16 and seems destined for five months more and change of some pretty miserable baseball.

Jeter has nonetheless cast the moves the Marlins have made as good for fans in the long run. And, yes, I suppose it’s likely that things will be better in the long run, if for no other reason than they cannot be much worse. Still, such reasoning, while often accepted when a lesser light like, say, White Sox GM Rick Hahn employs it, isn’t accepted as easily when a guy who has been defined by his hand full of championship rings offers it. How can Derek Jeter, of all people, accept losing?

That’s the question HBO’s Bryant Gumbel asked of Jeter in an interview that aired over the weekend (see the video at the end of the post). How can he accept — and why should fans accept — a subpar baseball product which is not intended to win? Jeter’s response? To claim that the 2018 Marlins are totally expected to win and that Gumbel himself is “mentally weak” for not understanding it:

JETER: “We’re trying to win ball games every day.”

GUMBEL: “If you trade your best players in exchange for prospects it’s unlikely you’re going to win more games in the immediate future–”

JETER: “When you take the field, you have an opportunity to win each and every day. Each and every day. You never tell your team that they’re expected to lose. Never.”

GUMBEL: “Not in so–”

JETER: “Now, you can think — now– now, I can’t tell you how you think. Like, I see your mind. I see that’s how you think. I don’t think like that. That’s your mind working like that.”

. . .

DEREK JETER: “You don’t. We have two different mi– I can’t wait to get you on the golf course, man. We got– I mean, I can’t wait for this one.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: “No, I mean–”

DEREK JETER: “You’re mentally weak.”

I sort of get what Jeter was trying to do here. He was trying to take this out the realm of second guessing among people who know some stuff about sports and subtly make it an appeal to authority, implying that he was an athlete and that only he, unlike Gumbel, can understand that mindset and competitiveness of the athlete. That’s what the “get you on the golf course” jazz was about. Probably worth noting at this point that that tack has never worked for Michael Jordan as a basketball executive, even if his singular competitiveness made him the legend he was on the court. An executive makes decisions which can and should be second-guessed, and it seems Jeter cannot handle that.

That being said, Gumbel did sort of open the door for Jeter to do that. Suggesting that baseball players on the 2018 Marlins don’t expect to win is not the best angle for him here because, I am certain, if you ask those players, they would say much the same thing Jeter said. That’s what makes them athletes.

No, what Gumbel should have asked Jeter was “of COURSE you tell your players to win and of COURSE they try their hardest and think they can win every night. My question to you is this: did YOU try YOUR hardest to get the BEST players? And if not, why not?”

Question him like you’d question Rick Hahn. Not like you’d question Future Hall of Fame Shortstop, Derek Jeter.