As you likely know, Eric and I are moving through the Pioneer/Executive wing of the HoME. And as you might guess, conversations about particular nominees can occasionally get emotional, even heated. We didn’t get to that point when discussing Bud Selig recently. Perhaps that’s because I realized that I was wrong.
I’ll give you the shortened, over-simplified version of our recent conversation about Bud Selig.
MILLER: I think we should really consider Bud for the HoME.
ERIC: Why? He wasn’t good for the game.
MILLER: Well, he was the first Commissioner whose job it was to be good for the owners, not specifically good for the game. And he was great at that.
ERIC: Yeah, but he wasn’t good for the game.
MILLER: But that wasn’t his job.
Just to reiterate, that’s a shortened and over-simplified version of the conversation. Eric’s a lot more articulate than that. Me? Well…
Anyway, I’m here to say that I was wrong about Bud Selig. He should not, and he will not, become a member of the Hall of Miller and Eric. The reason is simple. Eric is right. Selig wasn’t good for the game. While he left the owners better off than they were when his tenure began, he didn’t leave the game better off. It didn’t matter what his job was, just as it doesn’t matter what Trevor Hoffman’s job was. For us, neither Selig nor Hoffman brought enough value to the table.
In 1979 Time Magazine named Ayatollah Khomeini its Man of the Year (the award became known as Person of the Year in 1999). Before that Hitler, Stalin, and Khrushchev earned the same distinction. See, they can make such selections because they’re talking about impact. That’s not all we’re doing.
(Just as an aside, if you select the person above who you think is least bad, and you subtract 99% of his badness, he’s still worse than Bud Selig. I’m comparing our job to that of Time, not our candidate to theirs).
Anyway, back to our program. Yes, Bud Selig had a tremendous impact on the game of baseball. There was record attendance during his tenure. And yes, revenues went up by 400% during while he oversaw the game. But those things didn’t help us, the fans. Nor did they make the game better. They helped the owners. They helped the billionaires.
Now I’m not the type of person who begrudges billionaires making more billions. I’m really not. Nor am I against them treating the game I love like a business and hiring, essentially, a CEO to run that business. What I am against is saying that impact on the owners is enough to get someone into the Hall of Miller and Eric. Hell, even greatness in that regard isn’t enough. Bud Selig was pretty great at his job. But his job wasn’t necessarily great for the game.
What did Bud Selig do that was good for the game of baseball? Sure, there was unprecedented labor peace. But that was after he cancelled the World Series. Yes, he brought baseball to Tampa and Phoenix. He also brought it back to Washington. But he ripped it from Montreal, and I think he wanted to rip it from the Twin Cities as well. Yes, he expanded the playoffs. And now your team has more of a chance to win the World Series. But let’s not delude ourselves into believing that the prime motivating factor behind that decision was increased competition; it was money.
So did Selig do anything that helped the game? Sure. Here are a few things I think worked well.
- He deserves some credit for the World Baseball Classic. While I don’t care at all about this event, I do think it’s a net positive for the game, in that it brings MLB to countries around the world.
- Revenue sharing is a good idea, at least in theory. When more markets can compete, that’s generally a good thing.
- While I really dislike interleague play and favor the DH in both leagues, I do support the removal of the figure heads that were the AL and NL Presidents. And I think removing the league affiliation of umpires was a net positive.
- The very best thing Bud did for the game, in my opinion, is the second wild card team in each league. Doing so restored some degree of glory to the division title. Now if you don’t win your division, you really have a coin flip to get into the real playoffs. And you’ll likely be at a pitching disadvantage once you’re there.
Folks, that’s a very short list. Maybe it’s not comprehensive. Maybe you think there’s something else he did that merits praise.
Fine by me.
I admit that I don’t know enough to say whether or not Bud Selig should be in the Hall of Fame. Their criteria for election isn’t so clear. Criteria for the HoME makes more sense to me. To get in, you need to have made a positive impact on your team or the game. And this half of the HoME now agrees with the other half. Bud Selig will not be a HoMEr.