By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Jan 10, 2002 at 5:46 AM

Brewers' former president Bud Selig is taking a beating as baseball commissioner from a new angle on the contraction issue.


The latest story involves at least what appears to be a possible conflict of interest involving Carl Pohlad, the owner of the Twins, one of the teams alleged to be under consideration for contraction.

A private financing firm owned by Pohlad and his family made a short-term bridge loan of $3 million in 1995 to the Brewers when Selig was still president of the club.

The Star Tribune of Minneapolis and the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Tuesday on their Web sites on the loan between Tempest Investment Corporation and the Brewers. At least the implication was that Selig now is trying to help out his old buddy and financier, who wants to dump the Twins. Several former baseball officials called the loan arrangement "unprecedented."

Bob DuPuy, executive vice president and chief legal officer of Major League Baseball, said neither side tried to conceal the loan and that a public filing was done detailing collateral.

"There's nothing improper about it at all," DuPuy told the Pioneer Press. "This is out in the open." He said the loan was made at market interest rates and was repaid within 90 days. The loan was extended at a time when the Brewers were arranging long-term financing for Miller Park.

"There was no need to (disclose the loan to owners)," DuPuy told the Star Tribune. "It was paid."

Earlier in the contraction debate, Selig was alleged to favor contraction of the Twins because the Brewers would pick up radio and TV territory, as well as fans, without a club in Minnesota. The Brewers denied the impact would be significant.

Yours truly is on record favoring: 1) Bud Selig as commissioner and 2) contraction, but not necessarily of the Twins. Montreal and Tampa Bay should be the franchises eliminated in my opinion.

The Brewers also would pick up some territory if the Twins went bye-bye. It is foolish to deny otherwise. Whether that territory could be termed significant is debatable.

No doubt the latest story looks bad on the surface. Pohlad would make more having the Twins contracted than he could get for the team in an open market sale. The appearance is that his friendship with and indebtedness to Pohlad is influencing Selig's decision.

But, I do not believe the latest story constitutes a conflict for Selig, any more than many other incidents that occurred before he officially became the commish and was still running the Brewers.

Let's face it; Selig is still an owner's advocate, not an impartial commissioner. He makes no pretense on which side he falls.

Selig is responding to Pohlad's desire to sell the Twins, and the community's unwillingness to build a new stadium. Certainly, the seeming haste to contract by this season might be foolish or naive. You had to figure Minnesota would fight to keep its team, and the players' union would consider it an issue in its negotiations with owners.

But, Selig simply is trying to respond to an owner who wants out. He would do so to any of the owners, who are a family of sorts, albeit a dysfunctional one at times.

Selig should save himself a lot of grief and forget about pushing for contraction by the upcoming season. Talk about it with Minnesota officials and the union during this season, as other issues like revenue sharing, etc. are negotiated with the players. Consider other possibilities too. Then, reach a decision that can be implemented by the 2003 season.

Molly Uncertain

Former Brewer Paul Molitor first withdrew his name as a candidate for the Twins' managerial job, and now says he won't coach under Ron Gardenhire, who was named manager.

Molitor's main concern is the uncertainty because of the contraction talks. He said this week that he talked to Pohlad and Selig, and "doesn't like the direction" things seem to be going in.

Molly would be a great candidate for the Brewers' job if Davey Lopes is fired, but don't hold your breath on seeing The Ignitor back here. Just be happy he already has announced he plans on going into Cooperstown in a Brewers uniform.

Trade Opportunities?

There have been so many rumors about deals that never came to be; you almost don't want to mention any more. But, it will be interesting to see if Juan Gonzales' decision to sign with the Rangers opens up an opportunity for the Brewers to still send Jeromy Burnitz to the Mets.

Pitcher Glendon Rusch has long been rumored as one of the targets for GM Dean Taylor. You could see an outfielder also included in the deal.

Gonzales' signing with Texas also could result in a couple outfielders from the Rangers becoming available. The Brewers reportedly already inquired about Frank Catalanotto. Gabe Kapler also could now be available and has shown potential.

The Rangers undoubtedly would want pitching for one of those outfielders. If Rusch was obtained, the Brewers then could part with Jeff D'Amico or Jamey Wright.

Pack at Miller Park?

You're not likely to ever see the Packers return to playing part of their schedule in Milwaukee, but they could hold a scrimmage here in the near future.

Packers' and Brewers' officials reportedly have some interest in considering the Family Night scrimmage at Miller Park. The park is not big enough for regular NFL games, and was built as a baseball park only, with some possibilities for concerts. Football also is very hard on turf, which has been a bit of a problem at Miller Park since its opening.

The Packers also reportedly are looking at Camp Randall for a scrimmage or exhibition game.

Of course, the Packers played exhibition and regular season games at County Stadium for 40 years.


The schedule isn't really set because of the contraction question, but the Brewers already announced two time changes for games.

Both games are against the Cardinals. The Sat., April 20 game is changed from 6:05 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. CT. The Sat., Sept. 28 game time is changed from 1:10 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. CT.

Gregg Hoffmann writes The Brew Crew Review on Thursdays and The Milwaukee Sports Buzz on Mondays for OMC.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.