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Fehr not, players: You're still rich, even with union chief retiring

Big League Stew

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The independent St. Paul Saints once had a giveaway that featured a seat cushion with a picture of baseball commissioner Bud Selig on one side and MLB players union chief Don Fehr on the other.

Two sides of the same coin, or in this case, the same cushion. Pick your least favorite and have a seat.

The 61-year-old Fehr said Monday it is his turn to sit; he will be stepping down as head of the union after more than 25 years in charge. Here's the take of Yahoo! Sports' own Jeff Passan.

Michael Weiner, No. 3 in command after Fehr and Gene Orza, reportedly will take over by March. The current labor agreement expires in Dec. 2011.

You might say the only thing a baseball fan had to fear was Fehr, himself, because seeing his kisser on TV often meant the players were on strike, or locked out, or about to be. Even fans generally supportive of the players union probably won't miss Fehr, who inspired confidence within the union and dread in the stands.

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Even though he appears friendly enough here sitting on a sofa chatting with Brett Butler (are they at a mixer?), Fehr was cast as a big villain during the strike of '94 that killed the World Series. He'll always be associated with player greed and hubris, no matter the truth. He wasn't the labor pioneer that Marvin Miller was, and he didn't have Miller's charisma. Even if you thought Fehr was in the right, you probably didn't root for him, exactly. He was just that kind of guy.

His reputation has sunk, in some estimations, because of fallout from the steroid era. Not that Fehr ever seemed to care what anyone but his clients thought of him. His job was to ensure the players got the best legal counsel possible.

He was very good at that. The strength of their bargaining power, and the incredible salary increases that have come from it, are testament in part to Fehr's leadership.

So long, Mr. Fehr. They'll miss you inside of the clubhouses. Outside, well...

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