Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ex-Commish Kuhn Sides with Owners

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ex-Commish Kuhn Sides with Owners

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

It's not easy finding Bud Selig fans these days.

There is, however, one living in Ponte Vedra Beach.

He spends much of his time traveling the country, doing motivational speeches, for free, mostly for Catholic groups. He is on the board of several universities, including Jacksonville University. And when you ask this 75-year-old semi-retiree a classic sports bar question -- "If you were baseball commissioner . . ." -- it has extra significance.

After all, Bowie Kuhn was baseball commissioner.

And in his nearly 16-year tenure, which ended on Sept. 30, 1984, Kuhn took on owners, players and ex-players. He doused Charlie Finley's fire sale. He banned Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle for casino ties. And when the Braves wanted to sit Hank Aaron so the home-run record might fall at home, Kuhn ordered them to play him in Cincinnati.

It was, he often said of a tough decision, "for the integrity of the game."

So when you look at what is happening in baseball in the wake of a wonderful World Series -- owners talking contraction, players talking boycott of the All-Star Game, fans fearing another play stoppage -- you wonder what Commissioner No. 5 thinks of Commissioner No. 9.

He starts by explaining that the job has changed from the model started by Kenesaw Landis; that the commissioner now is a chairman of the board; and that, as such, Selig is doing a "good job in extremely difficult times."

Maybe so. But as the owners and players renew their labor battle, picking a side is like asking, "Who's your favorite Enron executive?" And when you hear Selig talking contraction -- especially involving Minnesota -- you tend to grudgingly get in line behind Donald Fehr.

Kuhn, however, makes a compelling argument for why we should be pulling for the owners this time. …

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