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Dan Shaughnessy

Marvin Miller’s legacy includes steroid era

Picked-up pieces while waiting for the Patriots to defer after they win the coin toss Monday night . . .

A few million words have been spilled about Marvin Miller since the labor icon died last week at the age of 95. Certainly Miller belongs in the Hall of Fame. He retired undefeated vs. Major League Baseball owners, and stands as the game’s most influential figure since Jackie Robinson. Miller created opportunity and fortunes for big league ballplayers. Ballplayers should be forever grateful, and petty owners need to acknowledge that Miller was right. Ultimately, both sides benefitted from Miller’s brilliance. All that said, Miller’s contribution to baseball’s plague of the late 1990s (and beyond) — a.k.a. “the steroid era” — cannot be understated. Nobody fought drug testing harder than Miller. In his view, it was a violation of civil liberties. Most important, it was a bargaining chip (Miller also had some kooky Bill James-like ideas that there was nothing wrong with PEDs). Miller’s place in sports history is eternal, but he gets a big slice of the blame pie for the steroids mess.


Oh, and if you’re upset about having no hockey this year, know that Marvin’s ghost hovers over every empty sheet of ice, thanks to the participation of the ever-intransigent and joyless Donald Fehr. Anybody who followed baseball labor in the 1980s and 1990s could have predicted this NHL stalemate as soon as Fehr took over for the NHL players.

I love the Red Sox’ acquisition of Mike Napoli, but like a lot of Sox watchers of a certain age, the rhetoric around the new slugger reminds me of the Danny Cater deal. A legendary “Fenway hitter” and Sox killer, Cater was acquired by the Sox for lefthanded reliever Sparky Lyle after the 1971 season. Over three seasons in Boston, Cater hit .262, averaging 5 homers and 27 RBIs. Lyle went on to win the Cy Young Award for the 1977 Yankees.


Sports Illustrated’s magazine sales will not spike in Cleveland when they see LeBron James on the cover as “Sportsman of the Year.’’

How’s this for obscenity? Head football coaching changes at five SEC schools — Mississippi, Texas A&M, Auburn, Kentucky, and Tennessee — will cost an aggregate $26.85 million in buyout payments. Auburn, which has dumped two coaches since 2008, is on the hook for more than $12 million. This is another reason I’m proud that I don’t live in a big-time college football town. Take that, Brother Ryan.

In case you missed it: Johnny Damon plans to play for Thailand in the World Baseball Classic. Damon’s mother is from Thailand. Damon just turned 39 and was released by the Indians last season.

Does it warm your heart to read that the Yankees still owe Alex Rodriguez $114 million? Already on the back nine, A-Rod’s hip surgery will take him out for half of next season and he’ll be 42 when his ridiculous contract expires. And to think the Sox had him for a few hours in the winter of 2003-04.

Pete Rose used to tell us he popped greenies just to watch “Monday Night Football.” Wonder if Charlie Hustle would have been an Adderall guy.

Anybody out there excited about the Houston Astros moving to the American League next season? Wish the ’Stros would go back to the rainbow jerseys.


St. Louis Triple A shortstop prospect Vance Albitz has put together a charity called Gloves 4 Troops. The organization plans to send used baseball mitts to US troops stationed around the world. Albitz’s website is gloves4troops.com. Nice to see a young player giving back before he hits the big time.

When I see Joe Theismann stalking the sideline with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, I am reminded of Reggie Jackson hanging around the batting cage at Yankee Stadium. The Irish, by the way, will not have played in 44 days when they take the field against Alabama Jan. 7. Nick Saban’s return to Miami Gardens has everybody in South Florida in a lather. Kind of like LeBron in Cleveland.

In the wake of the Red Sox’ salary dump last summer, Sox bosses were smart not to complain (publicly, anyway) when the Marlins sent a raft of talent to Toronto last month. Bud Selig would have had a hard time nixing the Blue Jays deal after allowing the Sox to unload $261 million in future payroll on the Dodgers.

According to the Patriots Pro Shop website, you can still order a Myra H. Kraft lapel pin or patch for $5.

Welcome, Steve Addazio. Having coached at Temple, you’ll understand regional apathy toward college football.

The Heisman Trophy winner is either going to be a freshman (Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, a.k.a. “Johnny Football”) or a defensive player (Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o). It’ll be history either way. It never has gone to a freshman or a linebacker.


Old pal Steve Burton either gets the scoop of the year or goes into Al Capone’s vault with Geraldo.

Boston lawyer Robert Murphy was the ancient-day version of Marvin Miller. Murphy was a management expert with the National Labor Relations Board and after the end of World War II he galvanized the American Baseball Guild. Guild members paid 50 cents a week in dues, but the association never got untracked.

The Flyin’ Hawaiian won’t look bad in right field at Fenway.

Friends and supporters of former BC baseball captain Pete Frates will be taking the plunge at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester Dec. 29 for the fight against ALS. Check out the Pete Frates #3 fund at petefrates.com.

Holiday reading list includes “Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame,” edited by Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy.

Who are you, Jeff Green?

Finally, a word about basketball coach Rick Majerus, who died Saturday at the age of 64. Nobody was more fun. Majerus nicknamed Glenn Rivers “Doc” when the two were at Marquette. The bald, rotund Majerus sometimes told a story about himself that went something like this: “I was staying at a hotel and there was a big rock star also staying there, and every time the elevator doors opened in the lobby, fans would rush over to see if the rock star was coming out. They were pretty disappointed when they saw me come out of that elevator. But I overheard two women talking about me. One said, ‘He looks like somebody. Is he famous?’ And the other one answered, ‘I think he’s one of the Stooges.’ ’’


Rest in peace.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.