MLB, union to blame

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

Management can blame the players' association and the union can blame the owners.

The fact is, testing for performance-enhancing drugs was down the charts on the list of each side.

The union wanted higher salaries for its members.

The owners sought lower payrolls and bigger profits.

Commissioner Bud Selig has been doing a great job of keeping salaries down.

"Now we know why. Did you see his tax report for 2007?" asked an executive this week. "He made more than every major leaguer but four in 2007."

Only Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens and Jason Giambi earned more in 2007 than Selig.

Tax records show Major League Baseball paid Selig $18.35 million US.

Roger Goodell of the NFL earned $11.2 million, NBA commissioner David Stern $10 million and NHL boss Gary Bettman $5.59 million.

WBC WATCH

The World Baseball Classic opener on March 7, between Canada and the United States, is selling well, with a crowd of about 30,000 expected for the afternoon contest.

Surprisingly the Venezuela-Italy game that evening also is assured of drawing five-figures.

The most common question we get from fans is if USA-Canada is the No. 1 ticket, what are the next most important games in the double knockout format?

Well, March 9, at 6:30 p.m., is an elimination game -- perhaps Canada versus Italy -- and a game March 10 at 5 p.m., will decide the second team to qualify for the next round -- Canada-Venezuela? -- unless there are some upsets.

COOKING FOR RICE

Red Sox Nation extends to Calgary, where Jim Rice, elected to the Hall of Fame last month, can thank a Canadian whose lobbying may have helped him secure his plaque in Cooperstown. Seven years ago, Calgary's Ruben Lipszyc created a "Jim Rice for the Hall of Fame" website.

His online tribute contained a petition pushing for Rice's candidacy and he gathered 4,255 signatures.

KOSKIE EYES COMEBACK

If Corey Koskie of Anola, Man., gets a clean bill of health from the Minnesota Twins doctors, he hopes to be in the batting cages and getting into some games this spring at Fort Myers as he attempts to make a comeback.

Koskie has not appeared in a game since July 5, 2006 when, as a Milwaukee Brewer, he and Bill Hall dove for a bloop off the bat of Cincinnati Reds' Felipe Lopez. Koskie had whiplash-like symptoms.

EXCELLENT QUESTIONS

What if Robbie Alomar is found guilty of having unprotected sex when he knew he had AIDS as his former girlfriend alleges? Do the Jays remove his name from the Level of Excellence at the Rogers Centre?

The name of Jays president Paul Beeston is up there, too. Now, that he is back as the team's CEO on an interim basis, does he have to do an "excellent" job to remain there?

CHARITABLE CATCHER

Gregg Zaun had trouble hitting breaking balls last spring, so he purchased a pitching machine that threw curves. He paid $1,500 for it and had it shipped to Toronto so he could use it at the Rogers Centre.

At season's end, he wasn't able to take the machine south, so he sold it to the Ontario Blue Jays for $750.

BILL-JAMES ABSTRACT

Cincinnati Reds scout Bill Byckowski has signed Whitby pitcher Mark James.

James is a former Milwaukee Brewers farmhand who threw for the Quebec Capitals in the independent Can-Am league in 2008.

A FOND FAREWELL

And finally, if you see us standing outside the Rogers Centre a lot this summer or notice Lance Hornby or Steve Buffery unable to get into the Air Canada Centre next season not to worry.

It's just because THE real boss of our sports department and the department's crack secretary, Sheila Chidley, has left the building. Sheila looked after press credentials, expense accounts and about a million other things on a daily basis baby-sitting the department for 28 years.


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