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Bye-bye, Bud

Can’t say I’m sorry to see the tenure of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig come to a close.

Bud Selig said Thursday that he plans to retire as baseball commissioner in January 2015 after a term of more than 22 years marked by robust growth in attendance and revenue along with a canceled World Series and a drug scandal.

Some owners — and even his wife — have been skeptical in the past that he really would do it, but this marked the first time that Selig, 79, issued a formal statement that he intends to step down from the sport’s top job.

“It remains my great privilege to serve the game I have loved throughout my life,” Selig said in a statement. “Baseball is the greatest game ever invented, and I look forward to continuing its extraordinary growth and addressing several significant issues during the remainder of my term.

“I am grateful to the owners throughout Major League Baseball for their unwavering support and for allowing me to lead this great institution. I thank our players, who give me unlimited enthusiasm about the future of our game. Together we have taken this sport to new heights and have positioned our national pastime to thrive for generations to come. Most of all, I would like to thank our fans, who are the heart and soul of our game.”

Selig said he will leave Jan. 24, 2015, which would mark the second-longest term for a baseball commissioner behind Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who served from 1920 to 1944.

He also said he will announce a transition plan shortly that will include a reorganization of central baseball management.

Selig’s tenure included splitting each league into three divisions from two, adding wild cards and additional rounds of playoffs, expansion to Arizona and Tampa Bay, instituting instant replay, starting the World Baseball Classic, launching the MLB Network and centralizing the sport’s digital rights under MLB.com.

“The game has grown under him tremendously. He’s made every effort to try to clean the game up,” New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s left his mark on the game. There’s no doubt about it.”

I agree that the game has grown under Selig, and that he deserves credit for many of the good things that have happened. He also deserves blame for the 1994 strike, the now-subsided “contraction” fervor that was largely fueled by laughably dishonest claims about the game’s finances and the false belief that so-called “small market” teams could not be competitive, the moronification of the All Star Game, and the witch hunt that is the obsession with PEDs. He’s always been an owner’s Commissioner, which is why he was tapped to be Commissioner in the first place. I’ll leave the judgments to history, but it’s definitely time for a change.

Jayson Stark lists some of the possible and not-at-all-possible candidates to replace Selig. While I have no doubt which category this would fall into, I endorse what The Slacktivist has to say.

Bud Selig is set to retire as commissioner of Major League Baseball after the 2014 season. Ari Kohen asks, “which old white guy is the odds-on favorite” to replace him? As much as I’d love to see a former player — such as Hank Aaron or Frank Robinson — replace Selig, the commissioner does tend to be a conservative, establishment figure. Mitt Romney is probably a likelier candidate than either of those hall-of-famers.

So here’s my proposal: John Roberts for commissioner of baseball. The chief justice of the Supreme Court would, of course, have to step down from that post in order to accept the promotion, but it shouldn’t be a problem for the president to quickly nominate a replacement.

I’d be willing to compromise and suggest Antonin Scalia as an alternative. Or hey, how about Clarence Thomas, if we’d prefer an old non-white guy? Surely any of these gentlemen would be good philosophical peers of the owners, and would be able to offer some real insight on how to stay just on the right side of that good old anti-trust exemption. Who’s with me on this?

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4 Comments

  1. You forgot year-round interleague play among the rant.

    As for PEDs, it may be a witchhunt in pat, to the degree he’s trying to clean up his own, old tolerance.

    But, I don’t see it totally that way. A fair part of me likes baseball trying to get out in front, compared to the willful heads-in-sand of NFL and NBA.

    And, I’m sure folks like the parents of the late Tyler Hooten also like baseball trying to do something on this issue.

  2. Linkmeister says:

    I’ve always felt that Selig’s commissionership was a put-up job. “Here, I’ll reluctantly take the job after I’ve led a group to get rid of the current commissioner because he told the truth about us owners and our collusion to keep wages lower than they should have been.”

    He’s a schmuck and always has been.

  3. mollusk says:

    For the first time in memory (which goes back to the Colt 45s and before that the Milwaukee Braves), I actually went an entire season without seeing more than the occasional snippet of a ball game on TV – and did not darken the door of the stadium once. Not because the Astros hope to arise to merely sucking (I’ve seen rebuilding before, and kind of enjoy seeing a young team learning to work together), but because of the footrace between Crane and $elig to see who can be more magnificently arrogant at the fans’ expense.

  4. An “owner’s commissioner” indeed; hard to think of any other kind (OK, got one, Fay Vincent.)
    He’ll join Mountain Landis in the ‘shameless tool’ circle of hell. I would condemn him for putting the Brewers in the National League, and then sending the Astros to the American League. (Sigh.)