News broke on Thursday that I had been waiting to hear for 20 years; Bud Selig is retiring.
|Photo by: Patrick McDermott
Selig was originally scheduled to retire at the end of the 2012 season, but decided to grace us with his presence in the commissioner's office for a little while longer.
As you may have guessed, I'm not exactly Bud's biggest fan. When he became commissioner, he was owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, and I never thought it was a good decision to put an owner at the helm of the league.
That's like giving an alcoholic the keys to the liquor cabinet and trusting that they will keep it locked.
In addition to having one of the inmates run the asylum of MLB owners, I especially didn't care for the way in which Selig essentially weaseled his way into the position.
As an owner, he had a pretty big feud with then-commissioner Fay Vincent (whom I had great respect for in that role). Selig led a group of owners seeking Vincent's ouster, and after procuring an 18-9 no-confidence vote against Vincent, he resigned. Selig, as chairman of the Executive Council of Major League Baseball, became the new acting commissioner by default.
The problem between the two was a result of Vincent accusing the owners of collusion, stating that it was "a $280 million theft by Selig and (Chicago White Sox owner) Jerry Reinsdorf of that money from the players."
Vincent claimed that collusion was responsible for affecting labor relations between the players and owners for years, effectively doing irreversible damage to the sport. You may recall that only two years into Selig's tenure (1994) came the worst strike in baseball history, which prompted him to cancel the World Series that year, the only time that's been done except during war.
Another gem that Selig is responsible for was the attempted contraction of the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins following the 2001 World Series. Not only did that draw the ire of the fans from those two teams, many thought it was the result of a conspiracy between Selig and Jeffrey Loria, then-owner of the Expos.
The consensus was Selig wanted to get rid of the Twins so that the Brewers would gain a much larger fan base in the upper-Midwest. He and Loria were sued for racketeering and conspiracy, a case they settled out of court.
The Twins are still in existence in Minnesota, and the Expos later became the Washington Nationals.
Selig also oversaw the phantom All-Star Game, played in his hometown of Milwaukee in 2002, which was tied 7-7 after 11 innings and eventually declared a draw. He was ridiculed by his hometown fans and later rewrote the All-Star rules to prevent that situation from ever happening again, and tried to renew interest in the game by having the winner of the Midsummer Classic host the World Series; which makes about as much sense as the way they did it before, alternating years.
I mean, forget about awarding it to the team with the best overall record. Why should the regular season count for anything?
And don't get me started on the whole steroid situation. I could write article after article about that (in fact, I have). The commissioner's office looked the other way for years in the face of obvious abuse of PEDs, but most famously during the 1998 home run chase by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.
Baseball (and Selig) was still smarting from the cancellation of the World Series a couple years earlier, so the assault on the single-season home run record was good for the sport. It brought back a ton of fans who vowed to stay away after the strike, so why question how these two players had become muscular behemoths virtually overnight, smashing 500+ foot homers on a regular basis?
Once it all came out, Selig and his cronies put up a front about how they are anti-doping, and began handing out massive suspensions to those who test positive (and some who don't, but apparently have overwhelming circumstantial evidence against them).
Batman's nemesis, Two-Face, should be the poster boy for this commissioner's office.
There have been plenty of other questionable decisions and controversies that have surrounded Selig's tenure as commissioner. Too many to bother mentioning. The question is, has he done anything good while in office?
It depends on who you ask.
He brought in interleague play. Personally, I don't care for it, but I know a lot of folks who do. Same thing with the wild card; some like it, some don't. Along the lines of the wild card race came breaking the leagues into three divisions instead of two. I know some who cheer that move (again, I'm not one of them). We still have the American and National Leagues, but they no longer have separate governing bodies as they used to. I actually do like that (begrudgingly).
There have been two accomplishments that I would call his crowning achievements; making April 15th Jackie Robinson Day, and the introduction of the World Baseball Classic.
Kudos, Bud. In 21 years you've managed to get two things right. I guess you've truly earned that $15 million-a-year salary that you're drawing.
Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little.