- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Each week, Nationals beat writers Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling debate an issue in major league baseball. This week’s question: How should retiring players union head Donald Fehr be remembered?

MARK ZUCKERMAN: I suppose in many respects, Fehr was good at what he did. He presided over the greatest economic era in baseball history, and at a time when other unions lost power, he kept the MLBPA the strongest union in America. That said, I think most will remember him for two negative things: the 1994 strike that wiped out the World Series and his staunch refusal to address the steroids issue until it was too late. Fehr can argue that in each case he tried to do what was best for the players, but it’s hard to say that in either case he did what was best for baseball.

BEN GOESSLING: This sort of depends on your criteria: Do you appreciate Fehr because he was good at his job, or do you revile him because the things that happened on his watch threw the relationship between players and clubs out of whack? Without getting into too much of a philosophical discussion about labor relations here, I think it’s safe to say most fans aren’t going to praise a guy for doing things that wound up being bad for the game. He pushed salaries to record levels, and the strength of the MLBPA almost certainly means things like guaranteed contracts and the absence of a salary cap will stay for years to come. But like with a lot of agents, being good at your job means you’re not going to be well-liked.

MZ: OK, but what will his legacy be? Will he be remembered for helping his players earn unprecedented salaries, or will he be remembered for antagonizing owners (and, by extension, fans) for putting the players’ interests ahead of the sport’s? Actually, here’s an interesting question: Who will have a more positive legacy when it’s all said and done: Don Fehr or Bud Selig? I suppose it’s possible Fehr wins that argument.

BG: Both of them were part of some of the ugliest moments in MLB history, but it’s a symbiotic relationship - part of the reason revenues are at record levels is because salaries are higher than ever. That said, I’m not sure record revenues mean the game is at its best. Remember Fehr by giving him credit for what he did for the players, but feel free to knock him down a few pegs for hurting the game. I don’t think you can unequivocally call him good or bad. I’ll say this, though: He’s going to be associated more with the strike and steroids than anything else.


Looking at the front-runners for baseball’s season awards. This week: AL Cy Young.

Zack Greinke, Royals

Greinke has tailed off slightly since his stellar start. Which is to say, he actually gave up more than one run in a start. Come on, this guy’s still 10-3 with a 1.95 ERA after 16 starts. He has tossed five complete games and has 114 strikeouts to just 18 walks. If Roy Halladay comes back healthy, he’ll push Greinke for the AL’s top pitching honor. But it’s going to be tough to top the Royals’ emerging star.

Others to watch: Roy Halladay, Blue Jays; Justin Verlander, Tigers; Felix Hernandez, Mariners


Rank, team Record Comment

1. DODGERS 48-28 Los Angeles is counting down the days till you-know-who returns.

2. RED SOX 46-29 They need Smoltz to solidify their rotation.

3. YANKEES 43-32 They crushed the Mets in a lopsided Subway Series.

4. TIGERS 42-33 Fernando Rodney is 17-for-17 in save opportunities.

5. RAYS 42-35 Tampa Bay is the fastest team ever to reach 100 homers and 100 steals.

6. ANGELS 41-32 They went an MLB-best 14-4 in interleague play.

7. GIANTS 40-34 Suddenly they have the second-best record in the NL.

8. BREWERS 40-35 The best of a bad lot in the wide-open NL Central.

9. RANGERS 40-33 Josh Hamilton is hoping to return before the All-Star break.

10. PHILLIES 39-34 They’re finding out it’s not so easy to repeat as champs.

Records and stats through Sunday

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