BOB: Union head retires

Donald Fehr announces retirement from MLBPA

When Donald Fehr took over as acting executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association back in 1983, I was 12 years old. I was hardly versed in the business of baseball at that time and it was only several years later that I began to study Marvin Miller and beginnings of the player’s union. For me, like a lot of people, Fehr has been in charge of the union for as long as I can remember and now he’s announced he’ll be retiring soon.

The union’s general counsel, Michael Weiner, will take over in place of Fehr; the reason is to get Weiner up to speed before the next collective bargaining agreement expires in 2011. To say Fehr’s ride was a choppy one is a major understatement. He was in command during the infamous 1994 strike and he’s also taken a ton of heat for refusing drug testing in the past. Still, the players can’t complain too much because during his tenure, the average salary for the players has gone up over eleven fold. (Let’s just say that the players are beating the rate of inflation.) He’s also been in charge of what many think is the strongest union in the country.

Weiner isn’t a lock but he’s been running things for Fehr for quite some time though, so if the players want a smooth transition, he’ll probably get the nod. It’ll be interesting to see how this next round of negotiations shapes up because of how much the economic climate has changed in just the past couple of seasons.

Diamondbacks bail on Tuscon

The Diamondbacks recently told Pima County in Arizona that they’ll be looking for a new spring training home. In fact, as far as spring training goes, Tuscon is not the place to be. The White Sox bailed on Pima County beginning this year to go play in the Glendale facility, and last month, the Colorado Rockies announced that they’ll be leaving Tuscon for greener pastures. The Diamondbacks’ announcement was one more nail in the coffin.

The big question is where the Diamondbacks will end up. They have over a year to find a new suitor, and it’ll be interesting to see what they can line up during these difficult economic times.

Tigers’ first-place standing doesn’t help at the gate

So far this year, 10,000 fewer fans are going to Detroit Tigers games when compared to last year’s record-breaking season, despite the team having a comfortable four-game lead in the American League Central. Detroit has been particularly hard hit by the tough economy. As mentioned in the article, the Tigers could get into some big trouble if they have a rough summer. As long as the Tigers are in contention, there will be some interest, but if they were to go on a rough skid and fall from their perch, you could see that attendance shortfall dip even further.

No San Jose for A’s this year

Rather than tempt fate, the Oakland Athletics have said they’d rather have San Jose wait to put a stadium referendum on the ballot until after baseball officials approve a move to the South Bay area. Rather than the issue showing up on a November ballot, city officials are hoping that they can get something done in March 2010. The big issue is that a move to San Jose would put the Athletics in the San Francisco Giants’ territory. It’ll be interesting to see what they dangle in front of the Giants to get their buyoff. We just had the Washington Nationals move into the Baltimore Orioles territory as an example.

MLB tackles streaming video on iPhones

Just last week, unveiled its new streaming video for the At Bat application for the iPhone and the iPod touch. Now you’ll be able to watch the game in your seat while you’re at the game to hear what the announcers are saying if you own the phone. iPod Touch owners are somewhat limited because they still need a wireless connection.

Right now, you can only view a limited slate of games. The eventual hope though is to basically offer the MLB.TV premium package on the phone where you can watch every out-of-market game.

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Brian, great work as always.  One minor correction: The Nationals did NOT move into Baltimore Orioles’ official Territory.  Territories are spelled out in the MLB Constitutions and can only be changed via an amendment approved by 3/4 of the owners.  If the Orioles had owned the DC market, they might well have been able to veto the Expos’ relocation to Washington. Instead, the Orioles received massive compensation because the MLB executive committee had previously given the Orioles exclusive BROADCAST rights to the DC market, which now had to be shared with the Nats.  Even though the MLB Constitutions clearly state… Read more »

Great point.  Thanks for picking me up.