Killing the National Pastime: Why Bud Selig Is the Worst Commissioner Ever

Josh McMullenCorrespondent INovember 16, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 15:  Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig speaks at a press conference before the 79th MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium on July 15, 2008 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

As the head of a major sports league, you’re the person fans, players, and officials depend on to make the big decisions. Unfortunately, sometimes those big decisions backfire, and the backlash is so great, the embarrassment seems insurmountable.

However, sometimes you make majorly stupid decisions that define your career. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Major League Baseball and their commissioner, Bud Selig. What follows are five reasons I believe that Bud Selig will go down in history as the worst commissioner in sports:

All-Star Game Stupidity

If anything, this is the biggest reason why Selig should hang his head in shame. Not only did he call the 2002 All-Star game a tie (much to the anger and disdain of the Milwaukee fans, a team he once owned), he turned right around and decided, in his infinite wisdom, that starting the next year, the winning league would get home-field advantage in the World Series.

As much as I’ve loved the tour of American League ball parks (the AL has won every single game since the rule change), this should not be the deciding factor in who gets the home field in the World Series.

None of the other leagues use their all-star game as a way to decide which league gets the home-field advantage. They use a little thing called...what’s the word...a won-loss record! If you win more games than your championship game opponent, you are the home team.

That’s all you need to figure this thing out, not a midseason game that shouldn’t mean anything anyway.

Pete Rose

Yes, I know Rose gambled on baseball, but if Selig was at least willing to listen to some semblance of reason, we wouldn’t be having this debate. He’s flip-flopped so many times on the issue (as quickly as 24 hours later, which happened earlier this year), that most supporters of Rose’s reinstatement concede that it won’t happen until at least 2012 (when Selig is reported to retire).

Rose has said he has never bet against his team, and never would.  He believed in his team enough to wager his hard-earned money for them. But Selig, genius that he is, keeps dragging his feet on the issue as the cries get louder to reinstate him.

Meanwhile, the time to get Rose’s face into Cooperstown gets shorter and shorter (he can’t be voted in by regular ballot anymore; he has to get in through the Veterans’ Committee).

Rose is already in the WWE Hall of Fame for his contribution there...why can’t he come back to the game he loved so much and have his bust in Cooperstown?

Extending the Season into November

Look, when I was little, the baseball season began in April, sometime around my birthday, and ended in October, and that was it. Now, it goes into November, when people are done with baseball and are already embroiled in football.

The only reason I can see that Selig did this was to increase the ratings, and that just isn’t right. People already don’t care about baseball in November, because most of their favorite football teams are mired in a playoff race.

If Selig wanted to do the right thing to increase ratings, he should have shortened the regular season by at least 50-60 games, because after 162 games, even the most diehard fan is bored with the season and just wants to move on to the next sport, especially if there’s no chance of their team making the playoffs.

One thing is for sure: nobody wants to watch baseball while they’re having Thanksgiving dinner.

Lesson in Futility No. 1- The World Baseball Classic

This was an absolutely ridiculous idea for three reasons.

The first reason is attendance.  For both years, in the first two rounds, attendance averages in at slightly fewer than 20,000 people. This number might seem misleading, but considering what I saw in this year’s Classic, believe me, it isn’t.  They barely have enough people in the stadium to constitute a good wave, much less post a sellout.

Show of hands...how many people knew that the Dutch national team (who had all of one all-star) beat the Dominican Republic national team (who has a whole team of all-stars)? I didn’t think so.

The second reason kind of correlates with the first reason, and that is the venues in which these games are being played. They almost got it right this year, when they decided to play a couple of them in Major League ballparks (and the Tokyo Dome). But why not play a couple of the games at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park, where most of the baseball fans congregate (for obvious reasons)?

Most of the baseball fans in the world are either Yankee or Red Sox fans, so this might be their only opportunity to not only see their favorite players, but maybe see their team’s stadium as well.

The third reason is the teams that come to this thing. Yes, you’re going to have the usual teams, like the USA and Japan, because they can field a team of all-stars without even trying. But South Africa? Australia? The Netherlands? These are teams that are specialized in other sports besides baseball, and with the exception of the Netherlands (who won two), won all of one game.

If you really want to put people in the seats for these things, at least put up some competition for Japan, Cuba, and the other teams that can field a team of all-stars.

Lesson in Futility No. 2- Transfer of the Montreal Expos

First, it was moving them down to Puerto Rico to play a few games, which they played miserably. That was a bad idea in itself, but then Selig had the gall to, instead of maybe expanding the league by two teams (including a possible team in Washington), move the Expos out of Montreal and into Washington, where it seems they’re playing even worse.

The Expos were at least competitive when they were in Montreal; now it just seems that they’re mathematically eliminated even before the season starts.

With the exception of the All-Star game, this is the worst decision Selig has ever made. The Expos were at least competitive before the move, and now the new Nationals seem to look like the Angels in “Angels in the Outfield” (before the heavenly intervention). 

They haven’t finished any better than .500 (in their first season) and haven’t finished higher than fourth in the NL East. This is a team that has obviously been destroyed by the move, and it wouldn’t have happened if Selig hadn’t meddled with a team by making another of his trademark bad decisions.

For those reasons, and many, many more, I can safely assert that Bud Selig is the worst commissioner ever to take on the title in sports history. Yes, he might have done some very good things (the imposition of interleague play, for example), but all of the ridiculous decisions he’s made far outweigh the good things he’s done.

Selig should be ashamed of the way he’s run America’s Pastime, and that is why he will go down as the worst commissioner in sports, ever.