Bud Selig Extension: 9 Things He MUST Do to Ensure His Baseball Legacy
Selig has been on record countless times saying his retirement was imminent, and in fact, after agreeing to his last two-year extension, Selig vehemently stated that he would be done after his contract expired.
"This is clearly it," Selig said at the time. "I could say this without equivocation."
Well, he reserved the right to equivocate.
Selig, who took the commish job on an interim basis when MLB owners ousted Fay Vincent in 1992 and then became non-interim six years later, has unfinished business to attend to before he goes quietly into the night.
Selig has been bound and determined to leave the game in better shape than when he originally signed on as interim commissioner, and there are ongoing issues that he clearly wants to resolve before he finally starts playing bocce in his backyard permanently.
Here are the nine issues Selig should resolve to ensure his legacy and allow him to finally retire with a clear conscience.
1. Resolve Ownership Issues in Los Angeles and New York
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For well over a year now, two venerable baseball franchises in the largest markets in the country have been plagued by news concerning its owners rather than the team itself—the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets.
A bidding war will soon be conducted that will ultimately resolve the ownership issue in Los Angeles, however in New York, the picture is still cloudy.
The Mets recently took out another loan just to carry out day-to-day operations, and with the pending lawsuit hanging over the heads of Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, the Mets have been reduced to a team that can only window shop for top-tier players with drool lingering from their lips.
Selig must resolve to ensure that the new owners in Los Angeles won't repeat the mistakes made by the previous regime, and pressure Wilpon and Katz to do the right thing and either sell the Mets or bring in viable partners with plenty of cash flow.
2. Institute Stringent Requirements for Future Ownership Qualifications
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When MLB ownership and commissioner Bud Selig approved Frank McCourt as owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004, they essentially approved an owner who brought a couple of rolls of quarters, a piece of waterfront land and a boatload of loans with him to the table when purchasing the Dodgers.
McCourt may have been the most highly leveraged owner in the history of baseball, and that leverage almost served to sink one of the most storied franchises in professional sports history.
Aside from Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers resemble the 1962 Mets, with a rag-tag group of journeyman players from other teams.
Selig and MLB have taken the right approach with the sale of the San Diego Padres to Jeff Moorad, opting to delay the approval while the owners do their due diligence with respect to Moorad's fiduciary accountability.
"There's no hidden agenda here. There's nothing else," Selig said regarding the delay of ownership approval.
"There were a lot of economic concerns. The most important thing that we do is bringing in new owners, so we have really become very, very fastidious about the economics of who can make it. And I'm not suggesting there were any negatives. There were just questions that we didn't have time to answer here."
That's a step in the right direction, however, Selig must back up those words by putting a stringent policy in place that places minimum qualifications for new owners regarding the financing of the sale.
Selig was responsible for pushing the approval of McCourt as an owner back in 2004, he must now resolve to be responsible to ensure that what happened in Los Angeles never happens again.
3. Complete Restructuring of Leagues with Playoff Expansion
When MLB adopted a wild card berth for each league to expand the playoffs in 1995, it was seen as a terrific move, as it added more intrigue to pennant races and gave more teams a chance to make the postseason.
Now, the playoff format is being restructured once again, and along with it comes a long-overdue restructuring that balances off the number of teams in each division for each league.
Selig has resolved to complete that process and set up a specific playoff format that will now include one-third of teams in MLB.
If you thought the pennant race was fun on the final day of the regular season last year, an extra wild card team will add even more intrigue, and generate more fan interest throughout the months of August and September.
4. Resolve the Oakland Ahtletics Relocation Situation
Photo courtesy oakland.athletics.mlb.com
The Oakland Athletics want to move to San Jose. The San Francisco Giants are completely against it, and own the territorial rights to the San Jose area. The A's continue to trade off their best players while they're still stuck in their cavernous stadium that they desperately want to move from.
When Selig was approved by MLB owners on Thursday, he commented that the A's possible relocation to San Jose “is very much on the front burner.”
Well, the burner is starting to overheat, Bud.
Selig must resolve to approve Oakland's relocation. In the past several weeks, the A's have traded off their two top starting pitchers (Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill), their top closer (Andrew Bailey), and made no attempt to resign their top hitter (Josh Willingham).
As long as they remain stuck in Oakland, they will never stop selling off their prized pieces, simply because they can't afford them. Selig must resolve to convince the Giants to give up the territorial rights to San Jose and allow the move.
5. Better Enforcement of Revenue-Sharing Policy
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In August 2010, financial reports for several MLB teams were leaked to the media. The reports documented the monies received by several small-market teams from their more-wealthy larger-market brethren in relation to MLB's revenue sharing policy.
What was revealed that it was apparent that several teams have not used the revenue-sharing booty for its intended use—to improve the quality of the product on the field.
Yes, the Miami Marlins finally decided to start spending some money this offseason, but they were receiving tens of millions of dollars each year in the past and did nothing but line their pockets.
Selig must resolve to make sure that monies received by small-market teams in the future are used with the original intent in mind—to improve the quality of the product on the field, either through player development or acquisitions.
Turning a blind eye while teams pocket money is no longer an option.
6. Expand Current PED Policy to Include Tougher Penalties
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Late last year, Manny Ramirez decided he wanted to return to baseball. In an interview with ESPN's Pedro Gomez, Manny said “I want to show people that Manny can change, that he can do the right thing."
How about baseball doing the right thing and instituting a PED policy that bans players from the game for a second positive test?
Ramirez had been suspended for 50 games in 2009 for failing MLB's drug policy, and it was for a female fertility drug that is taken to mask whatever else Manny was taking.
He was suspended for 100 games last year for failing a second test, and retired rather than missing two-thirds of the season.
Now, he gets to come back, and he only has to sit out 50 games rather than 100, presumably because he missed all of last season. However, that was Manny's choice to sit out the season, he didn't effectively serve any time for punishment.
Selig needs to step in with this and finally put some measures in place that will actually work. Players should simply be banned for life for a second failed test.
If they knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs the first time and got caught, they should certainly know better the second time. And if they're stupid enough to try it, they should pay the ultimate penalty.
7. Continue Expanding Use of Video Replay
When MLB and its players' union agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement in December, it was agreed that the use of video replay would be expanded to include replays on fair/foul calls and calls on fly balls that were trapped, adding to the use of replay for home runs.
While it's a step in the right direction, Selig should resolve to expand the use of video replay even further.
The blown call by Jim Joyce on June 2, 2010, in Armando Galarraga's near-perfect game, and for several other close calls at bases should serve as notice that video replay should be expanded.
MLB has one of the most extensive video systems in all of professional sports. Why not use it to protect the integrity of the game?
8. Keep the Peace!
Photo courtesy bleedcubbieblue.com
When the current MLB collective agreement was ratified by owners and the players' union, it meant that baseball would enjoy a period of peace between the two sides for a period of 21 years, longer than any other professional sport.
Selig should resolve to continue that peace by starting to set up the parameters for the next agreement before he leaves office. Baseball is in a unique situation that can't be said for other sports.
While the NBA came to an agreement to end their lockout, the agreement was tenuous at best, with several issues still as yet unresolved. The same for the NFL, who still must resolve issues regarding pension and revenue sharing.
Selig can go into retirement with a clean conscience regarding unity and peace between both sides, but setting up a long-term plan to continue that peace well into the future will certainly look good for his legacy.
9. Find a Successor
There is absolutely no question about the fact that MLB commissioner Bud Selig is wildly popular among current owners. However, can it also be that Selig is returning for another two years because there is no suitable replacement that owners can be happy with?
At 77 years of age, Selig is the second-longest serving commissioner behind Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who served as MLB commissioner for 24 years. Selig will be 80 years old when his contract expires on Dec. 31, 2014.
Selig must resolve to find a replacement that the owners can be happy with, and who will work to continue the gains made in baseball as well.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.