When I heard the news that the Brewers are building a statue of Allan Huber Selig, aka "Bud", my first thought was an obvious one: does it include a giant steroid needle sticking out of his arse?
But dumb jokes aside, I just cannot support a decision to erect a statue in honor of a man who does not deserves to be immortalized. In my not-so-humble opinion, Selig hasn't done a good job as MLB commissioner.
First of all, let me say that I know that Selig used to own the Brewers, so I recognize that the statue isn't being built to honor his legacy as Commissioner. Yet when you honor a man, you honor his entire body of work. You can't pick and choose, saying that he was great in one area, and lousy in another.
Second, let me acknowledge that I don't dislike everything the man has done as Major League Baseball's top dog.
I love the wild card, which was introduced on Selig's watch. It not only gives hope to teams that might otherwise not have it, but it sometimes prevents teams from selling off higher priced ballplayers during the season, since it keeps them in the hunt longer.
Yet despite this win, and the relative labor peace that has existed recently, I do not like what Selig has done to the game overall.
Why not? Let me count the ways.
Putting an owner in charge of baseball's integrity is like asking a team's catcher—instead of an umpire—to call balls-and-strikes.
Plus, Selig became the first commissioner to simultaneously own a team, which raises complicity issues. Sure, his daughter eventually was named owner, but there's no reason to believe that Bud wasn't still pulling the strings.
It wasn't until 2004 that Selig sold his interest in the Brewers. Oh, and guess who was allowed to gain a considerable financial advantage by moving to the National League?
Meanwhile, the former used car salesman's backstabbing and underhanded ways are known to many. Consider this comment from Fay Vincent, who was forced to resign as commissioner in 1992, at least in part due to Selig's organizing the owners collusion against Vincent:
"The Union basically doesn’t trust the ownership because collusion was a $280 million theft by Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf of that money from the players. I mean, they rigged the signing of free agents. They got caught. They paid $280 million to the players. And I think that’s polluted labor relations in baseball ever since it happened. I think it’s the reason Fehr has no trust in Selig."
Further, his decisions have largely been more for the good of the almighty dollar than the good of the game, or its fans.
In 2000, Selig had Major League Baseball take control of each team's websites. Shortly thereafter, baseball began requiring fees from fans who wanted to listen to radio play-by-play online. Pop-up ads were triggered on every page at mlb.com, so fans who cared enough to click ten pages of statistics got ten pop-up windows.
Selig allowed his friend, and then-current Expos owner, Jeffrey Loria to dump the Expos and instead purchase the Marlins, but he couldn't find a buyer. So Selig had MLB "buy" his team.
Loria, meanwhile, was immediately allowed to buy the Marlins. His ex-partners in owning the Expos have sued Major League Baseball under the U.S. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Yes, the 800-pound gorilla in the room, but worth mentioning anyway, because Selig's blind eye to performance-enhancing drugs has left a stain on an entire generation of baseball.
Not to mention the blemish on some of baseball's sacred records. Let's face it, numbers are critical in baseball, perhaps more so than any sport.
What baseball fan doesn't recognize the number 755, for example?
But thanks to Selig's leadership, or lack thereof, the owners, GMs, and yes even the media ignored the incredibly exploding bodies of players like Barry Bonds, thus allowing the number 755 to be overtaken by a cheater.
Following the release of the Mitchell Report, Congressman Cliff Stearns called publicly for Selig to step down as commissioner, citing his "glacial response" to the "growing stain on baseball".
Oh, by the way, who led the commissioning of the Mitchell Report? A director of the Boston Red Sox.
And don't tell me that Selig didn't know what was going on, my friend. He needed some way to attract fans back to the game following the next blunder on my list.
Cancelling the World Series
The 1994 strike resulted in the cancellation of the World Series, and, whether or not it was the owners or the players fault, the fact is it occurred under Selig's watch...and it almost killed our national past time.
The cancellation of the World Series was the first since 1904. Major League Baseball became the first professional sport to lose its entire postseason due to a labor dispute.
This had far reaching implications within the game, and eventually may have led to the rise of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. After all, remember MLB's slogan: "chicks dig the long ball"?
Well apparently, so did Selig, and as a result we lost far more than just a postseason.
The strike was settled before the season began, by acceding to almost all the players' demands. Canceling the 1994 World Series, then, accomplished nothing for baseball, except to discourage and alienate its fans.
Changes to the All-Star Game
First, Selig declared the 2002 All-Star game a tie, to the dissatisfaction of the Milwaukee fans in his own hometown.
Then, in a knee-jerk reaction to this debacle, Selig decided to award the winning league home-field advantage in the World Series as a way of reinvigorating the game.
Instead, what that has done is to make the outcome of the game a major factor in determining who wins the Series every year, which is an awfully high stake for an exhibition game.
In order to focus more on winning the game, the All-Star managers may refuse to play your local team hero and leave the starters in longer, which reduces the enjoyment for some people.
Selig's decision to extend the traditional postseason schedule into November in an attempt to increase Nielsen ratings has furthered an already too long season, and increased the chances of weather impacting the results of the playoffs.
Look, it was known as the "October Classic" for so many years, why ruin that?
World Baseball Classic
Hey, I'm not against increasing the game's exposure to the rest of the world, but this is strictly an attempt by Selig to obtain additional MLB.TV revenue.
And it may have resulted in players, especially pitchers, being forced to overextend their bodies too early in the season, leading to unnecessary injuries, and impacting the results of the regular season.
While it may sound like a good idea on the surface, Bud's plan has been fraught with corruption.
Teams can now field a roster whose total payroll is less than what they take in from revenue sharing, thereby ensuring that fielding a low-cost, non-competitive team will bring in a profit before the season even starts.
For every Cubs-White Sox matchup, there are Twins-Pirates and Astros-Rays games that no one cares about.
Meanwhile, he keeps Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame, yet Selig has done more damage to the game than Rose ever did.
A statue? Maybe one with Selig shaking hands with Mark McGwire would be appropriate.
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