Monday, April 10, 2006

The Commissioner

While watching a high school tournament in Sarasota this evening, I happened to be seated next to several old-time area scouts. Like always, in between innings we shot the breeze about mostly everything except baseball. Very rarely did we talk about the kids and their performance with the parents in earshot. However, the topic of Barry Bonds did come up. Showing my age, I happened to ask them what Bowie Kuhn would do if he were still the Commissioner.

Commissioner Kuhn was at the helm when I made my entry and exit from the playing ranks of MLB. I can remember him being very harsh towards those that abused drugs with hefty fines (at least compared to our pay back then) and quick suspensions. Just ask the four Kansas City Royals (Blue, Wilson, Martin, Aikens) that were suspended in 1983 for cocaine use.

And gambling? Let's not forget that it was Kuhn that had the guts to ban Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle from baseball for their promotion of legalized gambling. It was Ueberroth who later reinstated them in 1985.

My most vivid memory, however, was his confrontation with Kansas City Athletics owner Charles O. Finley. Actually he had already moved the team to Oakland when the two went at it. Finley saw the writing on the wall after losing Catfish to free agency. He tried to sell Rudi, Blue, and Fingers, but Kuhn stepped in to stop the transactions because in his opinion they were not in the best interest of baseball. Finley sued and the case became major precedent for the broad authority of the Commissioner. I did some quick research to find a quote from the appeal's court:

"The commissioner has the authority to determine whether any act, transaction, or practice is not within the best interests of baseball, and upon such determination, to take whatever preventative or remedial action he deems appropriate, whether or not the act, transaction, or practice complies with the Major League Rules or involves moral turpitude."
Charles O. Finley v. Bowie Kuhn (7th Cir. 1978)

Anyhow, our discussion was cut short by a phone call I received from the head coach of Wekiva Community College. It seems Dallas Parker walked off the field in the middle of the fourth inning after giving up a three-run shot. Didn't say a word to anybody. Packed up his bag and went home. Needless to say, I'm going over to Orlando tomorrow morning to see if I can hunt him down. And it wasn't like he was getting rocked. He had a one-hitter going with no runs.


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