(updated) (updated again)
Bowie Kuhn, Commissioner of the MLB from 1969 to 1984 was inducted into the Hall of Fame today. The AP is reporting that labor's opposite number of Kuhn, Marvin Miller, has been snubbed, and is kind of pissed:
"It's demeaning, the whole thing, and I don't mean just to me. It's demeaning to the Hall and demeaning to the people in it,'' Miller said.
And that isn't just sour grapes, people. Again, the AP in their "we'll let you draw your own conclusions here" way, points out this: "In the vote earlier this year,...Kuhn [received] 17 percent [of the vote], while Miller received 63 percent."
So what changed? They changed the entire structure of the Veterans Committee. And Miller thinks it was done to get figures unpopular with players into the Hall (like, say, Bowie Kuhn). Owners and executives now vote on owners, executives, and "pioneers" like Miller. So, basically Marvin Miller is now screwed, and Bowie Kuhn gets a free pass into the Hall.
Why does any of this matter? Well, Bowie Kuhn, as we documented, was a bit of a dick. He made it into our Sports Legion of Doom. The argument for him being included in the Legion of Doom was masterfully handled by occasional contributor "Barnyard" who is a law-talkin' guy who knows a thing or two about labor issues. You can read his entire post here, but I do want to quote the more salient points:
"So then, Bowie Kuhn. Well, he was the a-hole who made the last great stand against free agency. He was the guy who cut Curt Flood's career short and fought for a system so despicably one-sided that Curt Flood was comparing the reserve clause to slavery (in 1969, no less) and calling the Philadelphia fans racists (Flood unsuccessfully challenged the reserve clause when he fought his trade from St. Louis to Philadelphia, citing the racism of Philly fans as a reason for denying the trade).
Kuhn's attorney during Flood v. Kuhn alleged that Bowie acted the way he did "for the good of the game," birthing the continual hoax that owners of major sports teams are perpetually taken advantage of by greedy players while owners' sole motivation is akin to a young lad's first trip to the ol' ball park with dad. Oh, it is so sweet to see the new owner of a major league team score along in the program for the very first time: "mark it down as E1, son."
Bowie's evil legacy will forever be the last guy who fought for the ulimate symbol of owners' greed.
Oh yeah, he was also the prick who argued against the inclusion of Negro League baseball players into the Hall of Fame, and then tried to get their plaques placed in a separate wing of the Hall."
So, perhaps it is no surprise that Owners and Executives love the guy--a fond time in memory when owners called the shots, and the players were just so much chattel. And why Marvin Miller didn't get in. To quote the AP again, "Miller was leading the players to more lucrative and revolutionary gains, taking the average salary from $19,000 to $241,000 and pitching a virtual shutout against the owners in arbitration and collective bargaining." Miller represents the guy who ruined the happy easy salad days that Bowie Kuhn fought so hard to hold onto.
Or as Bud Selig put it: "I am particularly pleased that former commissioner Bowie Kuhn is among those who have received this great honor,'' current commissioner Bud Selig said. "Bowie was a close friend and a respected leader who served as commissioner during an important period in history, amid a time of change.''
Particularly pleased to honor a guy who attempted to strangle free agency in its crib, to keep power in the hands of the owners no matter what, and a guy who got his ass handed to him by Marvin Miller time and time again. Oh, Bud, you so crazy.
UPDATE: Another AP article gets reaction from Donald Fehr, who sums the whole issue up pretty neatly: "Over the entire scope of the last half of the 20th century, no other individual had as much influence on the game of baseball as did Marvin Miller," Fehr said. "Because he was the players' voice, and represented them vigorously, Marvin Miller was the owners' adversary. This time around, a majority of those voting were owner representatives, and results of the vote demonstrate the effect that had."
UPDATE again: King Kaufman is nicer than we are, but still thinks that Bowie Kuhn is a stupid fucking choice. Favorite sentence: "Putting Kuhn into the Hall of Fame before Miller is like voting for the Washington Generals as the greatest basketball team of all time."