Caught this post on the Huffington Post this morning, written by historian and basbeall fan Warren Goldstein. He’s been writing a lot about steroids and the Mitchell Report lately, and today talks about — well, I’m not sure what he’s talking about. I can’t tell if the inclusion of many Yankees and few Red Sox means poetic justice to Goldstein, but that was my first thought.
Anyway, he blames the Yankees for a lot of things:
During that time it’s been New York, and the Yankees, who’ve led the U.S. economic powerhouse, and built the most successful and lucrative franchise in the history of American sports. Whose screw-up opened the door to free agency? Who built the most gigantic payroll in the game, all the while complaining about “high-priced free agents”? And which sports town trains the most scrutiny on its teams, from all kinds of media? In which city do athletes most worry about the “pressure” of the hometown media and fans? In which city team is winning a pennant and losing the World Series considered a deep failure? And on which team do we have the most evidence of widespread steroid use–and I love this, given the economic parallels–and distribution?
Yeah, well, you’re going to have more evidence when the only two people to testify for the report were in New York. Had they nabbed a Boston trainer, you can be sure more Red Sox would have been on this list. But for a Yankee hater, that’s neither here nor there. Someone implicated some Yankees, and that’s good enough for them.
Notice the line I bolded, though. Uh, how did a Yankees screw-up lead to free agency? Anyone with a knowledge of baseball history knows that Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith opened the door to free agency when they didn’t sign their contracts for the 1975 season. An arbiter ruled that because they hadn’t signed contracts, they were not subject to the reserve clause, and thus granted free agency. McNally moved from Baltimore to Montreal, and Messersmith went from Los Angeles to Atlanta. Notice that the Yankees aren’t involved here.
Perhaps he’s referring to Catfish Hunter, whose incident occurred a year prior to McNally and Messersmith. The story is that A’s owner Charles Finley didn’t make an insurance payment on time, and Catfish had his contract voided. He then signed with the Yankees. So it was Finley’s screw-up there. The Yankees just took advantage of the situation.
Going back even further, we can tie the destruction of the reserve clause to Curt Flood’s Supreme Court case, which he ultimately lost. Thing is, Flood never played for the Yankees.
You’d think a historian would know all this, though…