Thursday, October 16, 2008

Union Claims Evidence of Anti-Bonds Collusion

Murray Chass is reporting that the Players' Association claims it has evidence that teams colluded against signing Barry Bonds:

“Our investigation yielded evidence of a Basic Agreement violation regarding Barry Bonds and his post 2007 free agency,” Michael Weiner, the union’s general counsel, said in an e-mail response. ”The union and the Commissioner’s Office have reached an agreement regarding the timing of the filing of any potential grievance. Any other comment at this time is not appropriate.”

When it believes it has a case, the union doesn’t usually delay filing a grievance. Considering its history with collusion and the fact that Bonds is a high-profile player, it would seem more likely that the union would act as quickly as possible.

In this instance, though, the union is waiting, a baseball official said, for Bonds to get beyond the trial he faces on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from his grand jury testimony in the Balco case.

Many folks have had a go at Murray Chass lately, but he adds a certain perspective to this story that your average wire regurgitation wouldn't. (1) He notes that, historically speaking, whenever the union believes it had basis for a grievance, that it would file quickly, not wait like it is in this case; and (2) he recalls that, back in the 80s, whenever he or his colleagues would bring up the subject of collusion, the owners' people would laugh it off as if it were crazy talk.

Well, the owners were busted for collusion a whole bunch of times back in the 80s, and their people are once again laughing this off like it's crazy talk. Someone -- be it the union or management -- is going to look very foolish when this is all said and done.

But Murray Chass won't. He seems to have broken a story.

UPDATE: Back in May I wrote about all of the reasons why I thought that anti-Bonds collusion was unlikely. After outlining those reasons, I said this:

Does any of this prove that there hasn't been a conspiracy against Barry Bonds? Of course not. But it does make a pretty compelling case that any charge of collusion wouldn't be all that compelling. Zirin is outraged that the media hasn't been "raising hell." Hey, I'm a big fan of muckraking, but if I'm an editor I need my reporter to provide me at least some evidence of a conspiracy before I let the hell raising commence. This is especially true in the face of a lot of reasons why Bonds isn't playing right now that don't require a conspiracy to exist.
I still stand by that. Chass has the union saying that they have evidence and they're going to do something with it. Before we get too far down this road, I'd really like to know what that evidence is. This is all smoke right now. Let's see the fire.

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