Steinbrenner's outburst violates Selig gag order

ON THE AL EAST

August 18, 2002|By Joe Christensen

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner landed in Bud Selig's doghouse this past week after lashing out against the commissioner and a group of small-market owners in comments published by The New York Times.

Steinbrenner could face a $1 million fine, since his comments went against Selig's gag order that prohibited owners from talking about labor issues during the negotiations.

Selig reportedly spoke with Steinbrenner this past week, but the commissoner hasn't commented about it publicly.

What had to infuriate Selig is that Steinbrenner has taken the union's side on revenue sharing and the luxury tax. Basically, he's against both, and the other owners consider those two things crucial to restoring competitive balance.

"It's quite a concern because I see it hurting the union and the players, and I see it hurting us [the Yankees] and other big-market clubs," Steinbrenner said.

To reinforce his point, Steinbrenner used Kansas City Royals owner David Glass as an example.

"I'm sure," Steinbrenner said, "that even a guy like David Glass, who was a brilliant businessman when he was running Wal-Mart, when Target came next door, he didn't say, `Here, we're doing fine, take some of mine,' "

Glass made a quick retort in the Kansas City Star, saying, "At Wal-Mart, or in the retail business [in general], you have no responsibilities to your competitors at all. You don't have to worry about whether they stay in business, whether they do well or don't do well. All you've got to worry about is your own performance.

"In professional sports, you have a responsibility to your competitor, not only to keep him in business but to make sure he's competitive. Because if he isn't competitive, he doesn't stay in business, and then you don't have anybody to play."

Later, Glass added, "I don't blame [Steinbrenner] for trying to protect what he has. If the rest of us had as much revenue as he has, we might take that kind of selfish approach as well."

Steinbrenner also talked about Selig referring to the Minnesota Twins as an "aberration."

"To go out and say they're an aberration, that's not right," Steinbrenner said. "I'm sure he regrets saying that, and I would defend him by saying it's probably the pressure of these lawsuits, No. 1, and not being able to get the union matters settled for a contract, that's weighing heavily on him. He's got a lot of weight on his shoulders."

Costly trade for Mariners

Imagine how the Seattle Mariners feel this season, five years after they traded Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek to the Boston Red Sox for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb.

When a reporter revisited the issue with Mariners manager Lou Piniella this week, he said, "What do you want me to say? ... Any time you give up a young player in a deal, there's always the possibility that young player will turn into a star-quality player, whether it be a position player or a pitcher. That's a chance you take."

The Red Sox considered Varitek the principal part of the deal on their side, and he has become a mainstay behind the plate for them. But Lowe has blossomed into a Cy Young candidate, going 17-5 with a 2.29 ERA.

Upton talks stall

The Orioles aren't the only team struggling to sign their No. 1 draft pick.

When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays took shortstop B.J. Upton with the second overall pick, there were early indications he would be a pretty easy sign.

But now Upton is considering playing a season in junior college before re-entering the draft next year - something Orioles first-round pick Adam Loewen has also hinted at doing.

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