Budig Strikes Out
Surely, we assumed, American League president Gene Budig had his hands tied by Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement in his handling of the Roberto Alomar affair (page 28). How else could Budig have bungled it so badly? Alomar spits in the face of an umpire, yet is allowed to play through the crucial closing days of the season and the playoffs. Then he gets a piddling five-game suspension at the start of next season? Ludicrous, galling, appalling—choose your adjective. Surely, the collective bargaining agreement was to blame.
In truth, Budig could have done the right thing. Despite widespread speculation to the contrary, there is nothing in the still-binding 1993 agreement between the players' association and Major League Baseball that prevented Budig from suspending Alomar immediately. And that suspension could have lasted for all or part of the playoffs. Alomar had the right to request a hearing, but the suspension could have been enforced while the hearing was pending. Suspensions traditionally have not gone into effect before an appeal because missed games would affect an entire team. But in Alomar's case there was no doubt that a suspension was warranted; any hearing would have been window dressing.
Once Budig made his dimwitted ruling he had to live by it. Only acting commissioner Bud Selig could have stepped in at that point "in the best interests of baseball." But that would have invited a lawsuit from Orioles owner Peter Angelos, a labor lawyer. Such is the state of the game.
Budig had only to look at other sports to see how the Alomar incident should have been handled. In the NBA, any suspension begins with the next game—playoffs or not. Seattle SuperSonics forward Shawn Kemp missed the first game of the 1995 playoffs for fighting in the final game of the regular season.
The NHL takes the same no-nonsense approach: Any suspected transgression is reviewed within a day, and a suspension can be imposed immediately. A hearing can be requested, but the player must serve the suspension while the hearing is pending, whether in the regular season or the playoffs. Under that policy the Colorado Avalanche's Claude Lemieux was suspended in June for the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals.
In his defense Budig has said, "I'm like an umpire. I stand by my decision." Well, you blew the call.
Football Comes to Notre Dame
Last Friday's showdown between North Carolina and Notre Dame may well have deserved its billing as the Game of the Century in women's college soccer. The stage was set 10 months ago when the Irish ended the Tar Heels' staggering string of nine national championships by beating Carolina 1-0 in the NCAA semifinals. But because the goal was a fluke—it came on an accidental head-in by Tar Heels forward Cindy Parlow—the victory was also treated as a fluke.
Although Notre Dame, which went on to defeat Portland 1-0 in the final, retained all its top players, the Irish started this season ranked second behind Carolina. The pecking order changed last Friday evening when the two undefeated teams met in the semifinals of the Duke Women's Soccer Classic in Durham, N.C. The Tar Heels, playing before a partisan crowd of 3,000, scored first. But as the early-evening sky changed from Carolina blue to Notre Dame navy, Irish forward Jenny Streiffer knocked in the tying and winning goals. "Parity has arrived," said North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance.