Bud Selig could probably do whatever he wanted with Donald Sterling if he were in charge

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Some interesting words from former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, who had to deal with Marge Schott back in his day. Schott, you may recall, dropped N-words on her stars Eric Davis and Dave Parker, praised the good works of Adolf Hitler and was generally the worst person ever. But Vincent thinks Sterling is worse:

“What she said was egregious, but what he said was probably worse,” Vincent, 75, told Bloomberg News. “There’s a question of where you draw the line. In this case with what this guy did and probably in Marge Schott’s case, you’re well over the line.”

Part of why Vincent thinks Sterling is worse is that Schott was a raging alcoholic and a more tragic and pathetic figure while Sterling is, presumably, saying the things he’s saying with a clear head and clear eyes. Your mileage may vary about how that all works, but I can at least see Vincent’s point. Another thing he says:

“You have to start with the proposition that the commissioner works for the owners, and for him to be disciplining the owners is a very awkward circumstance,” Vincent said.

It may have been awkward for Vincent as he never had the confidence of the other owners. But by the time Schott was actually disciplined it was Bud Selig calling the shots. And the single most important thing Selig ever did was to create a consensus among the owners and never do anything unless or until he had them in his corner. By doing this over a number of years, Selig has gained their trust to a large degree and could, I believe anyway, take unilateral action against an owner without ruffling too many feathers if he needed to.  Whether Silver can do this in the NBA after a couple months on the job is an open question.

Alex Bregman shows how easy it is to manufacture “controversy” in baseball

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In most sports it takes legitimate trash talk to create off-day “controversy.” In baseball, it takes the weakest sauce. We saw how weak that sauce was yesterday.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros are going to face off against Nate Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS tonight. It’s worth noting that earlier this season, they hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Eovaldi when he was pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yesterday, in an act which was likely somewhat inspired by self-motivation, somewhat inspired by getting in Eovaldi’s head and somewhat inspired by a simple interest in having fun, Bregman took the video of those back-to-back-to-back homers off of Eovaldi and posted it to his Instagram:

Of course, since this is baseball, where even farting off-key can be construed as “showing up” the opposition or somehow disrespecting the game, it became a thing. Or at least people tried to make it become a thing.

Indeed, it took them a bit to find someone who would help them make it a thing, because Eovaldi himself didn’t care about it a bit, nor did Astros manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Eventually, however, they hit pay dirt. Here’s Sox infielder Steve Pearce talking to WEEI.com:

“Wow. I don’t know why he would do that. We do our talking on the field. If he wants to run his mouth now we’ll see who is talking at the end of the series.”

My guess is that almost no one on the planet, Steve Pearce included, would care about this in a vacuum or if they allowed themselves to think through it for more than a second. Baseball culture, though — and let’s be clear about it, baseball media culture — has conditioned most of its players and participants to think that stuff like this is supposed to be controversial, so it actually takes effort not to start dancing to this kind of tune on auto-pilot.

Kudos to Hinch, Cora and Eolvaldi for exerting that effort and not dancing to it. To the press that automatically sought out comment on this and Pearce who dutifully gave it: hey, I get it. It’s hard to resist one’s conditioning. Maybe you’ll be able to resist it next time.