Bowie Kuhn, who stood on baseball's firing line for 15 years as commissioner, still doesn't see eye-to-eye with major-league owners, at least on the issue of leadership.
Kuhn thinks the owners should be more receptive to filling their commissioner's vacancy and less concerned with throwing that person to the wolves.
"I have a certain bias about there being a commissioner in place," Kuhn said yesterday as he watched the Orioles-Chicago White Sox game at Camden Yards. "I disagree with their approach of not having one. I understand what is bothering them. It's tough to take a new commissioner and dump him into the players' squabble. They feel it would assassinate him.
"I understand it, [but] I don't agree with it. I think he could be more a part of the solution than a victim of assassination."
Baseball has been without a commissioner since the owners ousted Fay Vincent last September. Bud Selig, owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, has been serving as interim commissioner for the past 10 months.
Kuhn, who was commissioner from 1969 until he was forced out in 1984, said baseball's situation is not unlike the one Paul Tagliabue walked into when he became commissioner of the NFL. Football was in the throes of collective bargaining negotiations at that point, too.
"A good commissioner would come in and take charge," Kuhn said.
Kuhn, who is president of Sports Franchise, Inc., a sports consulting firm, said he wouldn't be interested in the job.
"It's not practical," he said. "I'm not interested in a long-term thing. Any of us career baseball administrators would be available to come in and put out a fire. But that's not what they need. They need a long-term commissioner to do what is needed."
As a consultant, Kuhn says he has talked to some of people who are being considered for the job. Does he think baseball's search committee is close to making a recommendation?
"They're closer," he hedged, "but I don't know how close. The committee is working, sorting out the possibilities."