Selig’s biggest danger now: overreach

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Buster Olney makes a good point in his column today.

Bud Selig is at the brink of near total victory in the PED war. He will soon have suspended all the Biogenesis players and will have presided over a sea change in which most players in the game have shifted from silence or tacit acceptance of PED use to where they are publicly decrying such use.  Some of this was natural evolution, some of it happenstance, some of it skillful maneuvering, but Selig is poised to get almost all the credit.

But one way in which he could risk these gains is by overreaching. Specifically, by taking the tack outlined by the Daily News the other day and insisting that his suspension of Alex Rodriguez be done under his “best interests” powers rather than under the Joint Drug Agreement, thereby cutting off A-Rod’s appeal rights.  Such a move would certainly be tough, but it also might be counterproductive:

If Selig uses his best-interest powers and suspends Rodriguez under the CBA rather than the joint drug agreement, he will basically be taking him off the field before he can appeal — before the due process — and place himself in a position of being the judge and jury for Rodriguez, leading up to protracted arbitration.

From the players’ perspective, that is not ideal due process. The union, whether led by Weiner or somebody else, may decide to fight for that principle, which could lead to a messy labor battle, with new faces at the table.

I don’t think there’s any “may” about it. Such a move would be seen by the union as a power grab. Rank and file players could very easily see A-Rod as a different type of offender than they might be and be fine with harsh discipline, but I believe they’d feel threatened if Selig changes the procedures in place so radically in midstream. That could lead to the union joining in with any fight A-Rod mounts, which could involve a run to federal court for an injunction and litigation that has nothing to do with A-Rod’s drug use and everything to do with the Commissioner’s power.

The alternative: suspend him under the JDA, let the Yankees deal with the awkwardness of A-Rod still being around pending appeal, but declare total victory as Commissioner with the union giving you almost unprecedented backing.

Olney says Selig could use that as a basis for then demanding tougher penalties for first time offenders. Maybe that works, maybe it doesn’t. But it certainly puts him and baseball in the catbird seat, with A-Rod’s appeal being a relatively minor distraction rather than having Selig on the defensive with a big court battle in which arguments are made that Bud went too far.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.