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December 06, 2001

Open letter to Bud Selig
By Rob Dibble

ESPN's Rob Dibble, former Reds reliever and radio co-host of "The Dan Patrick Show," has taken it upon himself to write an open letter to baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

Dear Bud,

I hope you were a better car salesman than you are a commissioner.

I would love to know who put you in charge of baseball. Because, if I could still throw, someone would be getting one high and tight.

Commissioner, you have often made decisions that have benefited the Brewers and their interests alone.
Ever since you, a former owner, were given the power to run baseball, you have at times abused this power -- mostly for your own and your fellow owners' gain. While most owners want to win and make money at the same time, you, commissioner Bud, often have made decisions that have benefited the Milwaukee Brewers and their interests alone, with no apparent thought given to winning.

Let's start with your grand plan for realignment. You had all these great plans for the game of baseball, and all that happened was that the Brewers went from the AL to the NL.

Let' go back to when the Players Association won a collusion case against the owners, about $280 million worth, as I recall. Instead of paying it out of their own pockets, the owners set a plan into motion. And it was called EXPANSION. That's right, just a few years ago, the game was going so well it EXPANDED. But not really. Mostly, the expansion fees went to pay off the lawsuit.

In 1994, faced with a battle with the players union, you chose to cancel the World Series rather then negotiate in good faith. The judge ruled on the union's behalf (again). That's why I can bring it up.

Now, when you and the owners should be bargaining in good faith -- because after all, you're always saying that the players and owners are partners -- you hold a meeting that doesn't include the players.

It goes like this: You say you have a plan. You ask for a vote on your contraction resolution. You get the vote you want and the meeting is adjourned. That was the extent of your owners' meeting, and the beginning of your plan to negotiate with the players. That's no way to run a business.

Would you tell a potential car buyer that a perfectly good car on the lot was not for sale, unless, of course, that buyer was willing to give up a lot more than he should have to for the car? No, you wouldn't. You would try to make the transaction easier to accomplish, not harder. Unless you had something to hide.

If the Minnesota Twins are contracted, as proposed, the Brewers would benefit. You say the effect will be minimal, but with the Twins out of the way, more people in the upper Midwest will attend and watch Brewers games. You will make more money. And your friend, Twins owner Carl Pohlad, will make lots of money by folding the Twins rather than selling them and letting the team move or letting a new owner try to make it work in Minneapolis.

You have challenged the people of Minnesota "to look in the mirror and take a good look at themselves." As if they had blown their chance to have a major-league team and you are somehow forced to do this.

Gee, Bud, any mirrors in your house?

To really make things worse, Bud, if your proposed contraction goes through, you and the owners are leaving the door open to expansion in a few years.
In closing, I have to say I'm sorry to all the fans of baseball. We alienated you when we went on strike in 1994. I was a part of that disaster. But now, as a member of the media but still someone who loves the game and appreciates what it has given me and my family, I have to say ENOUGH already. Contraction will not better the game in any way. It will only make the owners more money. The New York Yankees will still have 10 times the revenue and money to spend than the bottom-level teams. That's the issue that needs to be addressed.

And to really make things worse, Bud, if your proposed contraction goes through, you and the owners are leaving the door open to expansion in a few years. Yes, EXPANSION. You don't want two teams to move now. You just want them to fold so your owner friends can get $250 million.

Then, in a few years, you're going to come back and say, "Hey, baseball is alive and well -- we can expand." And once again get big-money expansion fees. You haven't even looked into the alternative of moving the teams to better markets. You're acting like a used car salesman. "Ah, just total it. We'll get you another one later."

Not that every owner is on board with you. When one owner was asked what he thought of your plan, he said, "Christopher Columbus had more of a plan when he set out to find the New World."

Great, Bud -- a ringing endorsement, if I ever heard one. You're just the man I want running America's pastime.

Your devoted servant,
Rob Dibble

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