Re: Bud Selig to retire
posted at 10/1/2013 12:12 PM EDT
C & P from
The Legacy of Bud Selig; beyond the discusssion of PEDs
Selig was the most important commissioner baseball ever knew, maybe any sport. He made baseball big business, raising attendance eight times what it was when he took over on Labor Day weekend, 1992, raising revenues by five or six times what they were after The Great Strike of 1994-95. He got ballparks built, he got revenue sharing, he expanded the playoffs, he helped negotiate incredible television contracts, he helped baseball be a far more competitive business than his NFL counterparts, and, yet, when he made his announcement Thursday the first questions were whether or not he did enough for performance enhancing drugs.
So let us go there first. We may never know what Selig knew when they came off The Strike of ’94-’95, when Cal Ripken began the healing, or what he knew in 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa brought baseball back in the high life, again. So go back to 1998. Three years earlier, baseball was a $1.1B industry, and when McGwire and Sosa captured us the sport was rebuilding its revenue streams. If Selig knew—and he may—there was something suspicious about what was happening, if he’d pulled the plug on McGwire and Sosa, he’d have gone the way of Fay Vincent. Gone. And remember, what could he do, given the Players Association. It is now fashionable to blame Donald Fehr and Gene Orza for all things steroids, but in 1998, they were four years removed from a strike that was designed to break the union, smash everything Senator Jim Bunning and Robin Roberts and Marvin Miller fought to accomplish after the arrogant years of control of owners like Gussie Busch?
In 2002, Selig fought for drug-testing in the negotiations for a new Basic Agreement, but when it was clear Fehr and Orza felt drug-testing was a strikeable issue, he backed off because he knew baseball could not suffer another strike that quickly. Selig and I were both there for the first strike on March 31, 1972, and had seen them in ’76 and ’80 and ’95, etc., and he was right. He got the experimental testing for the next year which, because the players were so dumb, led to full testing, and on and on and on.
the full read