2019 MLB figures getting coal from Santa Claus this Christmas

A detail shot of the topiary in center field at Minute Maid Park. Allegations surfaced in 2019 that the Astros hid a camera in center that they used to spy on pitches.. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
A detail shot of the topiary in center field at Minute Maid Park. Allegations surfaced in 2019 that the Astros hid a camera in center that they used to spy on pitches.. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Tony Clark, Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) /

2019 MLB figures getting coal from Santa

Tony Clark

The president of the MLB Players Association laid down a bright marker in November when he ordered an investigation by his organization into possible collusion by team owners.

What got Clark’s goat was a statement by Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos acknowledging that his team had conferred with other teams about, among other things, their free-agent interests. What most saw as a bow to throwaway research, Clark saw as evidence that teams were conspiring to fix the free-agent market.

“We had a chance to get a sense of what the other clubs are going to look to do in free agency…,” Anthopoulos had said of his conversations.

Somebody with a suspicious mind – Clark, for example – could read collusion into that. More objective minds might see it as simple due diligence by Anthopoulos with no deeper meaning than, “what are you going to be looking for?” GMs are not allowed to collude, but they are allowed to ask general questions.

In short order, reality intervened. Free agents, among them the most-coveted – soon were flying off the availability shelf for staggering sums that exceeded even the most enthusiastic forecasts.

If collusion was afoot, it was a highly incompetent form of collusion.

All Clark actually succeeded in doing was poisoning relations between owners and the MLBPA at a time when both sides are utterly awash in money, and with the start of negotiations on a new basic agreement only about a year away.

Obviously there is a history at play that creates some level of wariness on the part of the association. But that history is now 30 years old. Clark should have been more careful to live in the present.