SBD/Issue 56/Leagues & Governing Bodies

MLB At A Crossroads, Day 28: Conyers Wants All From Selig

U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) Friday wrote a letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, asking that Selig provide the U.S. House Judiciary Committee with "more information than he had already said he would for his appearance next Thursday," according to Murray Chass of the N.Y. TIMES. Selig has "promised to disclose previously confidential financial information for the clubs" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/1). The letter requests audited financial records for the Twins, Expos, Marlins, D'Rays, A's and Royals for the most recent three year period. Conyers also asked for minutes, notes or other records of the November 6 meeting when MLB owners voted to approve contraction, "along with any memorandum or other supporting materials provided to the owners in connection with" that meeting. The letter states, "Please provide a copy of the contraction resolution, and a list of which owners noted for and against it." Conyers also requested "any information concerning territorial rights of major franchisees, including but not limited to, potential relocations" to the DC, San Jose or NJ areas (THE DAILY). To read the full letter, click here.

MR. SELIG GOES TO WASHINGTON: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan noted that Selig "is an old pro" at congressional testimony and last appeared on Capitol Hill before a Senate panel about a year ago (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/2). Also in Chicago, Elliott Harris writes, "There is no one more suited to speak at an antitrust hearing that baseball commissioner Bud Selig. He is the personification of being someone not to trust" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/3). In AZ, Dan Bickley: "That [Selig] will be able to keep a straight face [when he discusses teams' financial losses] is a testament to his ability as a puppet. As the threat of contraction evaporates into a mist of nothingness, this is baseball's latest attempt to court public opinion — and yet another mistake in judgment" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 12/2). In Philadelphia, Jim Salisbury wrote that at the Congressional hearing, Selig "should stand up early this week and tell the baseball world that contraction is not going to happen in time for the 2002 season. ... Isn't it high time Selig stopped holding the Twins and the Expos, and even the Marlins hostage?" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 12/2). A WASHINGTON POST editorial stated legislators "may finally be serious about doing something" about MLB's antitrust exemption. Congress "ought to stay on the case. Most baseball franchises benefit from considerable public investment, which has greatly increased the value of a number of franchises. There ought to be a corresponding public involvement. The owners should not be left free to carry on the kind of anti-competitive machinations they've engaged in this fall and over the years" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/2).

NOTES: On Long Island, Steve Zipay reported that in the previous two years, MLB owners, execs and corporate partners have contributed more than $12M to the "campaign coffers of both Democrats and Republicans" in DC, including over $3.9M in individual contributions. The largest individual donors include Reds Owner Carl Lindner at $1.2M; the family of Bill DeWitt, which controls the Cardinals, at over $325,000; Orioles Owner Peter Angelos and Marlins Owner John Henry at $307,000 each; Padres Owner John Moores at $147,476; and the Pohlad family, which owns the Twins, at $87,000 (NEWSDAY, 12/2). ESPN.com's Rob Neyer wrote, "The owners' greediness is never going to change, but as long as they continue to lie to the players and the public, they're not going to make any real progress, because there are too many powerful people who know the owners are lying, and that number grows every time Bud Selig opens his mouth" (ESPN.com, 11/30). In Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt wrote MLB owners "have drawn a noticeable line in the sand since the end of the World Series. In their quest to regain control of soaring player costs, they have decided now is the time to fight." But the "union will fight to the death anything that places a drag on salaries" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/2).

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