Michael Weiner Says MLBPA Plans On Naming Deputy Exec Dir Within Weeks
MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner yesterday said the union plans to name a Deputy Exec Dir within roughly the next two weeks, the latest step in a developing contingency plan stemming from Weiner's ongoing fight with brain cancer. Weiner has an inoperable brain tumor, and his condition has worsened considerably in the last month, leaving him confined to a wheelchair and with little feeling on his right side. Weiner's successor, who would then serve on an interim basis, will need to be approved by the union's Exec Board in a conference call to be held soon. Weiner all but ruled out any chance of a return to the union by former execs Don Fehr and Gene Orza, saying Orza has flatly indicated he will stay retired and that he "does not expect" Fehr to leave the NHLPA and return to the baseball union. "I would not expect that Don will work again at the Players Association, and I don't think Don expects that," he said. The MLBPA has been working on the contingency plan since November. Weiner said he does not know how much time he has left but said he is continuing to fight his illness, and he recently began a more experimental line of treatment. "I'm going to live each day as it comes," he said in a meeting in N.Y. with the Baseball Writers Association of America. "I take no day for granted. I try to find beauty, meaning and joy each day, and if I can find those, I consider that a good day" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). In N.Y., Madden, Thompson & Vinton report Weiner's successor will come "from within the association." Weiner’s unnamed deputy will "serve in his place until players can hold a vote to certify the new leader." There has been "much speculation" about MLBPA Player Services Dir Tony Clark, and choosing a union insider would be "in keeping with tradition." Each MLBPA leader has "come from within the organization, with one exception being the time players chose labor arbitrator Ken Moffett to succeed Marvin Miller" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/17).
BIG SHOES TO FILL: USA TODAY's Paul White writes the players "know the job will be difficult to fill." Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen said of Weiner, "He cares about the game of baseball and he wants everything to be fair." Rockies RF Michael Cuddyer: "The inspiration that he is, it's incredible. To be going through what he is, he'll go fight for what he believes is right. That's an extremely strong person" (USA TODAY, 7/17). Rangers P Joe Nathan: "It’s just awful to have it happen to him. He’s such a good guy; he’s such a brilliant mind. Every time I think about it, it’s like, ugh. It’s amazing to me that, through all of this, his concern has been about us. His concern has been for other people. I think he just needs to almost take a step back, do some things for himself. Enjoy his time now.” In N.Y., Tyler Kepner notes replacing Weiner is a possibility "none of the members wants to confront -- especially, it seems, at a crucial moment for the players" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/17). Tigers RF Torii Hunter said: "Spring training, he's walking and talking. To see him in a wheelchair in three months, that's tough. He don't want the sympathy, and he still wants to work. That's why nobody's stepped in. You gotta admire a guy like that" (DETROIT NEWS, 7/17).
FOR LOVE OF THE GAME: MLB.com's Barry Bloom noted it has been "less than a year" since Weiner was diagnosed with the tumor. Bloom: "We have all watched him deteriorate in front of our eyes." But he "wanted to be here for this All-Star weekend because as an attorney and head of the union, he absolutely adores the game, which excites us in times of strength and gives us solace when we are weak." Bloom told Weiner, "You've given it a great fight." Weiner responded, "That's the only way I know to go about it" (MLB.com, 7/16).