Off-field topics stealing limelight away from divisional races

Posted Aug. 25, 2010, at 9:26 p.m.

    These are rocky times for MLB, even with some fine races on the field. Somehow, the air around the game keeps picking up the scent of issues not resolved.

The indictment of Roger Clemens for lying to Congress during steroid hearings will simply keep the steroid and performance enhancing drug issues alive. They were far from dead anyway.

Marlins catcher Ronnie Paulino was suspended last week for 50 games for using performance enhancing drugs. He said the illegal substance was in a diet pill, but took full responsibility.

There have been some rumblings that the Marlins may not want Paulino back behind the plate-ever. Is that a punishment exceeding that allowed under the collective bargaining agreement?

The Mets are outraged at the broken thumb of Francisco Rodriquez that may have occurred in a fight with his girl friend’s father.

The Mets moved Rodriquez to the disqualified list, not an injured list, and they moved his contract to a non-guaranteed status.

The players’ association is not happy about either move and has appealed the decisions under the agreement.

What the Paulino and Rodriquez cases represent is a burning desire by teams to be able to punish players to a greater extent in drug and “stupid” cases than may be allowed by the CBA.

There are general clauses in the agreement that speak to “moral turpitude” or “good of the game,” but they are clauses rarely invoked. Some teams would like to give them a try.

Then there are the “leaks” on Deadspin.com where the financial reports of the Marlins, Pirates, Rays, Mariners, and Angels have appeared.

MLB clubs are considered private businesses that do not have to file public financial statements.

Clubs, of course, have no problem asking for tax dollars to build stadiums, roads, subway stations and whatever will help them make more money. However, their financial records are off limits.

A concern has been that teams receiving revenue sharing dollars do not put them back into player contracts in an attempt to be a better team on the field, but instead use the dollars to expand profits.

The records show the Pirates took in $69.3 million in revenue sharing in 2007 and 2008, earning $29.4 million.

They have the lowest payroll in MLB, but they now argue they have put the revenue monies into development programs.

What is most troubling from the disclosures is a sense that revenue sharing among the MLB teams provides very fine profits indeed, and those profits have little to do with winning.

Why should the Pirates worry about a winning team that will cost more in player salaries if they can earn 30 million over two years losing?

MLB has a full court press on to find out where those leaks came from.

A disclosure that requires teams to explain why making money is more important than winning is not what clubs really want out there.

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