This Bud's for You! Or Is He Really?
Last week, I had heard of Bud Selig's comments regarding the A-Rod steroid admission.
I was expecting the commissioner to take a high road position like the Yankee superstar had done and admit his own shortcomings in quietly condoning the steroid culture in Major League Baseball for the past decade.
Instead, Selig substituted the high road for the high horse! In a state of self-righteousness, he declared that A-Rod had humiliated the game of baseball and that punishment was not being completely ruled out.
First of all, punishment? A-Rod admitted to taking steroids before the current steroid policy was put into effect. Furthermore, his sample tested positive when it was supposed to be an anonymous survey of 104 ballplayers.
The promise that was given to the Players' Union was that the identities of those players would not be identified. Thus, A-Rod is by every legal maneuver possible in the clear from punishment by MLB.
But this is not the reason why I am writing this article. I, for one, am not a fan of A-Rod. Furthermore, I find what he did despicable.
However, what I find even more despicable than A-Rod's positive urine sample from six years back is the foolish, hypocritical arrogance of Commissioner Bud Selig.
As more information has emerged beyond just the ramblings of a Jose Canseco book or a leaked government investigation into BALCO, Bud Selig has a lot to answer to.
It has become quite clear that he was aware of the steroid problem years before the March 2005 Congressional hearing chaired by Congressman Tom Davis.
Allegations have even surfaced that several star players, like A-Rod, may have been tipped off by the Players Union that a pending drug test was coming.
Now, for the record, this is just an allegation. So, it remains unproven and could very well be false. But, if true, it serves as another dark chapter in the last 15 years of Major League Baseball.
Whether Bud Selig is an accessory before the fact or after the fact does not matter at all.
What matters is that Selig was the Commissioner over the most tainted era in baseball history since the 1919 Blacksox scandal when gamblers were running the show and throwing the World Series.
The Blacksox scandal scared team owners so bad in the early 1920s that they collectively agreed upon to create an office of commissioner to oversee the game's integrity.
Kennesaw Mountain Landis, a tough law-and-order federal judge, was named by the team owners as baseball's first commissioner.
In his first act to clean up the game, he had the eight Chicago Whitesox players alleged in throwing the 1919 World Series with the help of gamblers expelled from baseball for life.
Granted, this was a controversial decision because not only were all eight players acquitted by a criminal jury but also several of them, like Buck Weaver, were only implicated by association, rather than misdeed.
With that said, Landis felt that the allegations were serious enough to put a dark stain on the game of baseball. So, to preserve the integrity of the sport, he banned all eight players, including Buck Weaver, who was pretty much innocent.
Landis did not care whether a player was a superstar. He punished any player for misdeeds. In 1921, Landis famously suspended Babe Ruth for 40 games when Ruth was caught barnstorming, which baseball forbade players do.
Just as George Washington serves as a gallant role model for future American presidents, so too should Landis serve as a role model for future baseball commissioners.
Bud Selig was a used car salesman who eventually purchased shares in the Milwaukee Brewers. In 1992, he orchestrated the coldest, sleaziest maneuver to oust a commissioner by campaigning for votes among the team owners.
By an 18-9 vote, Selig and the owners removed Fay Vincent as commissioner. Selig became acting commissioner. In less than two years, baseball had a strike and the World Series was cancelled for the first time in 90 years!
Now, do not get me wrong. Selig has done some good things. The All Star Game adjustment, in 2003, of making the winning league host the World Series and the installment of the World Baseball Classic, in 2006, were very good things.
However, they came about because of Selig's mistakes. In 2002 with his hometown of Milwaukee hosting the All Star Game, Selig had the game stopped in the eleventh inning with the score tied.
As for the World Baseball Classic, that came about because Selig refused to allow Major League players to compete in the Summer Olympics. Thus, the IOC saw no reason to continue baseball as part of the Summer Olympic program after the Beijing 2008 Games last summer!
But, just as Landis had to oversee the game's integrity after a colossal scandal, so too did Selig. While Landis acted quickly to quell the issue, Selig did little, if anything, until his hands were publicly tangled when criminal probes on BALCO began around 2003.
The homerun was a marketing tool that was bringing fans back to baseball. Baseball was at its lowest level of popularity after the 1994 strike.
Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa put fans back into their seats in 1998 as they pursued a respected record set by the honorable Roger Maris.
From a business perspective, it is understandable why Selig was slow. But, from an ethical perspective, it is understandable why fans like me and the silent majority out there are very disgruntled with Selig.
My grandfather, Rube Walker, played the game the way it was supposed to be played...with honor! Where is the honor these days? Where is the character? How many people remain as examples of high character?
Bud Selig has failed as a commissioner. A culture of drugs and cheating has surrounded his tenure. For the integrity of the game, Bud Selig must resign!
In his place, Frank Robinson should succeed as acting commissioner until the owners can collectively choose a permanent replacement. Who knows? Maybe they will stick with Robinson.
After all, the owners felt confidence in Selig...thus, what would be wrong with Robinson? Or, is Frank Robinson too honest, too noble, too principled for the game of baseball today?
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