For any person involved in professional sports there is often a discussion of what their legacy will be after they leave the sport. Even players who were never all-stars can leave a legacy as a hard worker, great teammate, or role player.
Some peoples' legacy can be defined by a single event, such as a great win or a heartbreaking loss.
When it comes to most players, their legacy is defined by their actions from their first game as a rookie to the day they retire. In most cases this is a relatively short time frame in which to leave a legacy.
On the other hand there is one person in any league that is often given the opportunity to have an impact on multiple generations, and in some cases, change the game—for better or worse—forever.
That person is the commissioner of the league. One commissioner in particular has added to his legacy in recent days:
Selig’s handling of Jim Joyce’s blown call that cost Armando Galarraga his perfect game opened my eyes to exactly what Selig’s legacy will be.
I will forever see Selig as the man who does nothing.
To prove my point, I will start with present events and work backwards through his time as commissioner.
Selig has pretty much pretended the whole perfect game dispute never happened. He refused to overturn the call and award Galarraga the perfect game he earned because he supposedly doesn’t want to set a precedent.
There is not a single person in the world that thinks Galarraga didn’t pitch a perfect game. Joyce himself feels terrible that he blew the call so badly.
It is true that the call did not affect the outcome of the game, but righting this terrible wrong would not affect it either. It would simply give a young pitcher the credit he is due.
He deserves to have his name on the list of perfect game winners, and Selig could fix that, but he didn’t.
Instant replay could have easily righted this wrong as well, but Selig refuses to use that tool to its full extent.
Even after the plethora of terrible calls in the 2009 postseason, he is still unwilling to let technology aid in the proper calling of games. He did institute replay for disputed home runs in 2008, which is a step in the right direction, but not a big enough one.
Human error is a part of baseball, and replay would never eliminate that part of the game, nor do I think most close plays should even be reviewed, but these plays that are not even close could easily be righted and no one would complain.
In what will most likely be the single biggest chapter in the Bud Selig era, I will remember how he refused to take action until Congress forced him to.
I am of course referring to the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball.
It was not until after the 2005 Congressional hearings that Selig helped form the new league policy on PEDs. This is totally ridiculous as a big chunk of the steroid era started in the '80s and '90s. Not to mention the use of amphetamines in the '70s, which were also outlawed at this time.
I realize Selig did not become acting commissioner until 1992, and commissioner in 1998, but he was an owner before that time and had to be aware of what was going on in the game. He very easily could have come in and helped to fix the problem before it got totally out of hand.
I realize he had to work with other groups, namely the player’s association, to get stuff like this done, but it would not have been difficult to get the aid of the media, and in turn, the public, had he actually wanted to make something happen.
But he did nothing.
Selig did reinstate George Steinbrenner from his lifetime ban from baseball though he refuses to reinstate Pete Rose, who I feel has paid his debt and belongs in the Hall, but that is a different argument all together.
In comparing other commissioners to Selig I can’t help but keep thinking about Roger Goodell of the NFL. He has come in and taken action on what can be very controversial subjects.
He has brought the NFL into an era of dominance in the American sports world. He has disciplined severely, but fairly, while always maintaining the league’s best interests.
He is accepting of new technologies that will further the game, and is willing to make tough decisions when they need to be made, and stands firmly by them when he gets criticized.
There is much more involved with the success of a league than just the commissioner, but while the NFL continues to increase in popularity, Major League Baseball has remained mostly stagnant, if not somewhat worse off after the steroids fallout.
Who knows if Selig will actually retire when his contract is up in 2012, since he didn’t in 2009 contrary to his previous announcement that he would. All I know is that I hope whenever he does get replaced, his heir will be more willing to take a stand on issues, and really try and make the game better.
Money is often the driving force in these decisions, but it wasn’t money that kept Selig from awarding Galarraga the perfect game that he had earned, it was simply his inability to do anything, even when the decision is an obvious one.