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THE INSIDE TRACK | Morning Briefing

Selig Basically Commissioned to Do Nothing

July 19, 1998|MARK HEISLER

Now that Bud Selig has accepted the post of non-interim commissioner of baseball, one of his predecessors, Fay Vincent, has some advice.

Don't try to do anything.

"Bud has power because he's able to get the votes," Vincent told the Cape Cod (Mass.) Times. "He's a considerable politician. But he doesn't inherently have the same power that Bart [Giamatti] and I had."

Owners deposed Vincent for being too conciliatory toward the players' union. With him out of the way, they hardened their position, precipitating the disastrous strike of 1994.

"It's hard for a commissioner to be a hero in that circumstance," Vincent said. "If you get involved, the owners go crazy. If you don't, the public goes crazy. You can't win."

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Bobo? Not that the news of Selig's accession was unanimously cheered.

"The only thing that has changed is that the wizards of Oz have come out from behind the curtain," wrote the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jim Reeves.

"They should make it easy on everybody and call him by his real title: Owners' Bobo. . . .

"Bud is a deal-maker within the context of discovering which way the wind is blowing and then leading the charge in that direction. . . . Please, don't try to use Selig's radical realignment plan as evidence that he's willing to step out and put his neck on the line. How much realignment actually got done? One team--his--switched leagues and that was exactly what Bud wanted for the Brewers. One other team, the Tigers, changed divisions. Not exactly radical, huh?"

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On the other hand: What is it with this guy if even his admirers think he's a bozo?

The Washington Post's Tom Boswell, who defends the selection, nevertheless notes:

"Selig, of course, is the ultimate muddle-through guy. He's like Mr. Magoo, the near-sighted 'toon character who always falls off the roof but lands in a haystack. If Bud had been the captain of the Titanic, he'd have survived, blamed the iceberg and been given a bigger ship."

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Trivia time: The 1968 season is considered baseball's low point for offense. How many American League hitters batted .300 that year?

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On no, not that! Billy Hunter, the NBA players' union director who scuttled the latest Dream Team, figured out a new way to snipe back at Commissioner David Stern for locking players out over the summer--by organizing the WNBA.

Half the WNBA players earn less than $25,000, agents told the Washington Post. Designated stars like Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie earn more than $100,000 under personal services contracts with the league.

"We need some type of unity," New York Liberty center Kym Hampton said. "We need a voice to speak for us as opposed to being dictated to as to how it is and how it should be."

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Trivia answer: One, Carl Yastrzemski, who hit .301.

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And finally: Cleveland Cavalier guard Scott Brooks, on running into a pick by Toronto's 320-pound Oliver Miller: "I lost myself for a second."

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