Yesterday it was announced that Allan Huber “Bud” Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball since 1992, will be retiring at the end of the 2014 season. This is big news. While Bud probably will not get the kind of year-long retirement celebration that Mariano Rivera got, a lot of good things happened in the game of baseball during his tenure. (Modern ballparks and skyrocketing revenues are good, right?)
That being said, Bud is also responsible for a lot of crap—some of it quite embarrassing—that baseball fans do not like. So today we’re going to ignore all the good stuff and instead focus on all the bad stuff. Is that a fair and balanced approach? Not really. But hey, we’re not Fox News.
Ready to get your Selig-hate on? Great, let’s go.
Let's start with interleague play, shall we? It's dumb. Personally I liked it better when the two leagues didn't play each other at all. Different leagues, different rules, and they only play in the World Series. Simple. Idiosyncratic. Perfect. But, if you're going to play teams in the other things and ruin what makes the World Series (not to mention the All-Star Game) special, shouldn't every team play ever other team so it's fair?
Yes, obviously there are some natural, regional rivalries (New York, Chicago, Texas, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay), but for every one of those you also get matchups no one on earth cares about—like series between the San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays.
So yeah, interleague play is a half-assed desecration of baseball tradition. And we can thank Bud Selig for making it happen.
9. Interleague Play
Next up we have what I have called the Oakland Problem. What is the Oakland Problem, you ask? Well, as you may or may not know, the Oakland Athletics, a proud and historic franchise, play in an absolute dump. That dump is called the O.co Coliseum, and in addition to being ugly and old, it also leaks raw sewage. Mmmmm!
The A's obviously want to move and have tried to find a new location within Oakland. But that hasn't worked out. Enter the city of San Jose. They want the A's. They want to build them a stadium, buy them flowers, make sweat love to them—basically, they want to make their wildest dreams come true. Unfortunately the San Francisco Giants will not let the A's move. They say San Jose is their turf, and if the A's move there they'd be ruined. RUINED!!!
Of course, this is bullsh*t. The former A's owner conceded rights to the San Jose area to the Giants so that they could use that as leverage to get their new (gorgeous) stadium built. Now the Giants are the baseball team in the Bay Area, and nothing can touch that. They are just being greedy.
So how is this Selig's fault? Because he's not fixing it. He's gone on record calling the A's current digs "a pit," and yet he says his hands are tied. But that's nonsense. MLB could resolve this, but Selig (and, in fairness, the other owners) don't want to piss of the Giants.
8. The Oakland Problem
The weather in the first half of October is perfect for baseball. The weather in the second half of October and the early parts of November is not. Nevertheless, under Bud Selig's watch, the MLB postseason has gotten longer and started later. This means there are more rain delays due to nasty weather, and that only makes everything go on even longer.
The simple solution? Cut a few games off the season. Spread some of the extra revenue brought in from the extra playoffs games (and yes, I'm going to get to that) around to the teams that don't make the playoffs to cover their losses, and then baseball can finish before typhoon season.
But no, that's not what Bud wants. Bud wants the World Series interrupted by torrential rainstorms every year, so that's what Bud is going to get.
7. The November Classic
Okay, so I lied in the last point when I said the simplest way to not play baseball into November was making the regular season shorter. The simplest solution is actually to have fewer teams make the playoffs. It's just that, thanks to Selig, this is now even more unlikely than shortening the regular season.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people who says the new Wild Card system is unfair because a much better team can get sent packing after losing just one game. I say if you didn't win the division and earn a series, that's your problem.
That being said, the system we have now is still dumb. Personally I'd prefer the old way, where there were four divisions and four playoff teams. But if we have to have more teams, we could still do more to give advantages to the teams that won their division. Otherwise those 162 games don't really matter all that much, do they?
For example, how about playing four of five games in the division winner's park? Or all five? As it is now, winning the World Series just doesn't mean as much as it used to. Now it no longer means you are the best baseball team in the world. It just means you are the hottest baseball team in the months of September and October.
6. Wild Cards Galore
You think Jeffrey Loria's only ruins the Marlins? Don't tell that to baseball fans in Montreal. Long before Loria destroyed the Marlins, he destroyed the Expos.
You see, Loria bought the Expos in 1994 and tried to get politicians to build him a new stadium there. However, when they wouldn't do it–because they were still paying off the last one—Loria basically tanked the team. Then he sold it to the commissioner's office (that is, Bud Selig), bought the Marlins, and moved everything and everyone (except the players) from Montreal to Florida—front office staff, coaches, trainers, computers, desk chairs, you name it. Baseball in Montreal was effectively dead. Then Loria went to Miami, won a world series thanks to the previous owner's draft picks, had a fire sale, got the city to build him a sweet new stadium, and scuttled the team.
Is Loria a giant turd? Of course. But don't forget that Bud Selig had a huge hand in all this.
5. Jeffrey Loria
The NFL and NBA adopted sensible instant replay policies ages ago. So did the NHL, and their genius business strategy involved forcing hockey teams to play in Phoenix and shutting everything down every couple of years just for sh*ts and giggles. But Major League Baseball? No, under Bud Selig they have dragged their heals and resisted and fought off instant replay for decades.
Of course, they finally introduced instant replay reviews for home run calls back in 2008, but refused to expand any further. Then, in 2010, umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base that cost Armando Gallaraga a perfect game. The sports world revolted, and MLB immediately instituted changes to make sure this would never happen again.
No, I'm totally kidding. That didn't happen! Bud decided it would be best to think about it...for three more years. Only this year has MLB agreed to use replay in more instanced for the 2014 season.
Welcome to 1998, baseball fans!
4. Replay Reluctance
Bud Selig deserves some credit for going almost 20 years without even the threat of a work stoppage. However, he also deserves blame—not all, but his fair share—for the 1994 strike that nearly killed the league altogether. Sure, MLB has rebounded, but it's a different league now—more regional, less national in scope—than it was before the strike. And that's a shame.
3. The Strike
For years leading up to 2002, the All-Star Game had been managed like a church picnic softball game. Is that Bud Selig's fault? Not directly, no. But he didn't see this as a problem, apparently, or else he would have taken steps to correct it.
Then 2002 happened. The ASG in Selig's home town of Milwaukee was tied 7-7 in the 11th inning when all both teams ran out of players. Selig then conferred with the umpires and made the only decision he could—call the game a tie.
The lesson to be learned from that game was manage the ASG like a real game and don't burn all your players, and Selid got that. Unfortunately, the way he decided to make sure everyone else heeded that lesson was to make the game count...by giving home field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins.
Since then, the games have indeed been better. But it's completely unnecessary, and it has probably unfairly affected the outcomes of at least a couple World Series. (Like 2011.)
2. Making It Count
None of the good things Selig did during his tenure as MLB Commissioner can ever get out of the shadow of baseball's steroid era. Selig and the rest of the league just sat there and watched juiced up egomaniacs steal baseball's most cherished records and tarnish even the honest players from their era. Sure, all pro sports have struggled with PEDs, but nowhere was the problem more apparent than baseball, and yet it took an entire decade before anything meaningful was done.
The recent bans on A-Rod and Ryan Braun? Those are great steps. But as far as Selig's reputation is concerned, it's too little too late.