Craig Calcaterra wasn’t the only scribe to christen Bud Selig as the best commissioner ever, but his tribute stands out for its laughable qualifiers.
Now to be clear, Part II: many of those innovations and accomplishments were only made possible by Selig’s own past failures. We would not think much of labor peace — nor would it be as attainable — if Selig had not spearheaded the group of owners who (a) overthrew former commissioner Fay Vincent; (b) installed Selig in his place; and (c) declared war against the union and fomented the player’s strike which cost us the 1994 World Series.
Likewise, PEDs would not have gotten to the crisis point they became if Selig and his comrades had not ignored it as it took hold and created an atmosphere of rancor and distrust with the players which prevented either side from addressing PEDs before, say, dealing with all of the messed up financial issues.
And those are just the failures he mentions. There’s so many more, like the contraction scheme intended to bail out Twins owner Carl Pohlad, who at the time was the game’s richest owner. Bud also nearly destroyed one of baseball’s signature franchises by allowing a heavily leveraged parking lot magnate from Boston purchase the Dodgers.
McCourt was valuable to baseball because of the parcels of land (parking lots) he owned in Boston that could be used as a potential new home for the Red Sox. …
There were other candidates with far better pedigrees: Los Angeles developer and philanthropist Eli Broad offered to buy the team, mostly with cash. Former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth formed a group to look into purchasing the team, as did Los Angeles real estate mogul Alan Casden. All had more money, visibility and ties to L.A. than the McCourts did.
This failure was corrected, not by Bud, but by the McCourt’s divorce. Under his watch the owners of the Rangers and Cubs also declared bankruptcy.
The Used Car Salesman hasn’t done the Braves any favors, either, allowing them to be treated as a tax write-off by an out-of-town media conglomerate that could care less about the team’s performance. A strong commissioner wouldn’t have let the previous corporate owners negotiate a long-term TV contract, well below market price, that served only to line Time Warner’s pockets.
This was the same commissioner who wouldn’t let the Mets don unofficial 9/11 caps, instead forcing them to wear commemorative caps being sold for $30 on mlb.com. And how ’bout those Spider-Man logos on the bases?
The game’s gone from a national to regional pastime during Selig’s tenure, and blacks have virtually disappeared from rosters and the stands. Bud fretted about this publicly, but what did he actually do about it?
Not much, says Luther Campbell (the 2 Live Crew guy is actually a sharp dude), who noted that while the NFL invests money into developing African American little league and high school athletes in his native Miami, “the baseball field is sorely neglected. The city doesn’t even water the grass there. Selig and the Miami Marlins have not lived up to their commitment of developing youth baseball programs in parks like Charles Hadley.”
He continues, “If Selig really cared about the lack of African American representation in the big leagues, he would mandate every team support little league clubs and high school teams in places like Overtown, Brownsville, Liberty City, and Miami Gardens.”
And there’s more. Remember The Baseball Network, which regionalized the playoffs, preventing fans in NL cities from watching the ALCS, and vice-versa? How ’bout the way he’s let the A’s twist in the wind?
Then there’s his role in collusion, which, as Joe Sheehan notes, “may have cost his team a division title while spearheading an approach that would end up costing MLB owners $280 million across three separate judgments and queering relations with the MLBPA for the next two decades.”
Finally, let’s not gloss over the ’94 strike, which Sheehan recalls correctly as “(t)he single most destructive act towards baseball in my lifetime.”
The revisionists and contrarians have had their say, but the record is clear. Bud Selig was the worst thing to happen to baseball in any lifetime.
On top of everything else, he’s even partly to blame for George W. Bush’s presidency. W. wanted to be baseball commissioner, and Bud said he would support him until stabbing him in the back, just as he did Fay Vincent.
Heckuva job, Buddy!