Column: Hall of Fame Voting Should be RevisedDecember 15, 2014

It’s the time of year when 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America – some 600 at last count - elect former players to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ballots are due by December 27 and the results will be announced on January 6. Unfortunately, the Hall’s rules limit the number of worthy candidates that get elected every year. The voting rules are both simple and complex. Candidates must receive 75% of the votes cast to gain election. Beginning this year, players will remain on the ballot for ten years, down from fifteen in prior years. However, any player receiving less than 5% of the vote falls off the ballot. Players who aren’t elected by the baseball writers may be considered by the 16-member veterans committee. Writers are allowed to vote for a maximum of ten candidates. That’s the simple part.

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Column: Five Takeaways From the Ray Rice Arbitration DecisionDecember 7, 2014

U. S. District Court Judge Barbara S. Jones’ decision to overturn Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came as no surprise to most observers. The former Baltimore Ravens’ running back won his appeal against the NFL for all the right reasons. Here are five takeaways from Judge Jones’ ruling. 1. Ray Rice wasn’t found “innocent” of committing domestic violence. The arbitration hearing was neither a civil trial to establish liability nor a criminal trial designed to determine guilt or innocence. The sole issue was whether Goodell abused the powers granted to him under the Collective Bargaining Agreement by punishing Rice twice for the same offense, first when he imposed a two-game suspension in July followed by an indefinite suspension in September. Judge Jones confirmed what Rice and everyone in his camp – his wife Janay, his attorney, the NFLPA and Baltimore Ravens’ General Manager Ozzie Newsome, all of whom were present during the initial hearing with Goodell in June - has been saying all along: Rice admitted to striking his then fiancé Janay in an Atlantic City elevator prior to the release of the incriminating video.

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Column: The Six Most Important People In Baseball HistoryDecember 1, 2014

Several websites have recently come up with a list of the twenty-five most important people in baseball history. I’ve decided to compile my own list but in the interest of space, I’m limiting myself to the top six, which complicates matters exponentially. Among the candidates are the more than 18,000 players and hundreds of managers and executives who worked in baseball. Also considered were outsiders who had an impact on the game, like union leader Marvin Miller and Dr. Frank Jobe, the surgeon who pioneered the operation known as Tommy John surgery after the first – and most famous - patient.

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Column: MLB Teams Hire Multiple GM'sNovember 24, 2014

“I am in control here.” General Alexander M. Haig, Jr. March 30, 1981 The Los Angeles Dodgers are known for fetching the highest price ever paid for a Major League Baseball franchise, at $2 billion. After going on a front office hiring spree this fall, the Dodgers laid claim to one other record and possibly a third: The highest salary ever awarded a MLB General Manager and having the most current or former General Managers in a team’s employ. First, the Dodgers kicked their incumbent GM, Ned Colletti, to the curb, creating a new position and assigning him the title of Senior Advisor to the President, Stan Kasten. During Colletti’s nine years as GM, the Dodgers made the playoffs five times. But they never played in a World Series and in sports, the bottom line is winning. Kasten could have fired Colletti but that would have been interpreted as unsentimental and crass for a team with unlimited resources.

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Column: Adam Silver Endorses Sports GamblingNovember 16, 2014

Last Thursday in an op-ed piece in The New York Times, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver came out in favor of legalizing gambling on professional sports. Talk about a bombshell. Silver’s comments were in stark contrast to the decades old position of his league, which is mirrored by other professional sports leagues in this country. In 1992 the leagues lobbied Congress to pass the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which prohibited the adoption of legalized sports betting in all but the four states - Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana - where it was legal at the time. Just last month, the NBA joined MLB, the NFL, and the NHL in a legal challenge to block the state of New Jersey from implementing sports betting at casinos and racetracks.

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Column: A-Rod Admits to Using PEDsNovember 10, 2014

“He's a walkin' contradiction, partly truth, partly fiction.” The Pilgrim, Chapter 33 by Kris Kristofferson The Miami Herald reported last week that during a hearing with DEA investigators on January 29th, Rodriguez admitted buying PEDs from Tony Bosch, operator of the now defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in South Florida. A-Rod also told investigators that he knew what he was taking – testosterone cream, gummies and hormone injections - was illegal and a violation of baseball's joint drug agreement. This is the same Alex Rodriguez who for two years had vehemently denied any involvement with Bosch or his clinic.

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Column: Cubs Hire Joe MaddonNovember 3, 2014

The second dance with Joe Maddon turned out to be the charm for Theo Epstein. When Epstein was hired as the general manager of the Red Sox in 2002, he interviewed Maddon for the team’s vacant managerial position. Maddon had been a big league coach for ten years, but his lack of managerial experience and Boston’s intense media market led Epstein to opt for Terry Francona. Tampa Bay had no such qualms when they hired Maddon as their manager in 2005. In nine seasons at the helm of the low-budget Rays, Maddon earned a reputation as one of the best managers in the game. When former Rays’ president Andrew Friedman was hired by the Dodgers two weeks ago, Maddon became a prime topic of conversation. A clause in his contract gave him the option to become a free agent if Friedman ever left the Rays. The twitter-verse was rife with questions. Would Maddon exercise his option? Would Friedman fire the manager he inherited, Don Mattingly, and be reunited with Maddon? Would another MLB team jettison their manager to accommodate Maddon? Soon enough, the questions were answered.

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Column: NCAA Says Mo'ne Davis Can Be Paid for Chevy AdOctober 27, 2014

If you’ve been watching the World Series on Fox you may have been surprised by what you saw on the screen. No, I’m not referring to the outstanding defensive plays turned in by players on both teams, or the Kansas City Royals’ shutdown bullpen in the late innings. Based on the pre-series scouting reports those are things we should have expected. What was unexpected was seeing Mo’ne Davis starring in her very own Chevy commercial. The 13-year old Davis took the nation by storm with her talent and personality during the Little League World Series which was broadcast live on ESPN in August. After leading her Philadelphia Taney Dragons team to Williamsport, Davis appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which certainly increased her exposure and no doubt spurred higher magazine sales. It comes as no surprise that Chevrolet would want to recruit the girl-wonder to help them sell automobiles, even though she’s too young to drive one.

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Column: Athlete Banned for Failing Gender TestOctober 20, 2014

Dutee Chand’s goal is to compete as a member of her country’s track and field team. However, in September the eighteen-year old Indian sprinter was banned from international competition after she failed a “gender test” under rules established by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Chand has appealed the ban through the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland. She becomes the first athlete in history to challenge the IAAF’s standards which determine whether an individual can compete as a female. The IAAF adopted new guidelines, which are also followed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), after the controversy surrounding South African runner Caster Semenya in 2009. Like Chand, Semenya was suspended from international competition after her gender was called into question. She was allowed to resume her career eleven months later after a group of experts who had been convened to weigh in on the matter couldn’t agree on what the standards for gender should be.

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Column: Baseball is Far From DyingOctober 12, 2014

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Mark Twain The accuracy of the statement attributed to Samuel Clemens, a/k/a, Mark Twain, is a matter of debate. However, there should be no debate when baseball uses the same retort. Every year it seems we are inundated with reports that baseball is dying. For support, critics claim that the games are too slow and too long, the audience is too old, the season is interminable, television ratings are declining and the sport is losing the youth of this country. The naysayers are right, of course, because they believe they are. But the facts suggest otherwise. Baseball is thriving.

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