By Dennis Brown
Baseball is “America’s Pastime.” Baseball is a sport that has brought joy to people in this country since first appearing during the civil war era. Any sport or business however, would be lost without a leader. Allen H. Selig, better known as Bud, has been the face of Professional baseball for eighteen years. Since coming into office as commissioner of the MLB, Bud Selig has had his share of controversies and tough decisions. At the age of seventy-five, it is no surprise that there has been talk of retirement for Bud, but what would this do for the sport of baseball?
Just two years after being named acting commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1992, Bud Selig was faced with the strike between the players and owners regarding their salaries. He set a deadline and when it came, the 1994 season was cancelled because no agreement had been reached. One year later, after meeting with President Clinton at the White House, Selig stated “we are committed to playing the 1995 season and will do so with the best players willing to play.” This was huge for the sport, implying that replacement players may be used in the striker’s place. Throughout the years Bud Selig has also made other big decisions like adjusting Hack Wilson’s RBI total and Babe Ruth’s walk total.
Controversy struck the MLB big in 1999 as the Los Angeles Dodgers attempted to illegally sign Adrian Beltre at the age of fifteen. Selig took control and fined the Dodgers ball club $50,000 and forbid them from scouting players from the Dominican Republic for an entire year. Bud said “He participated in the scheme,” and denied Adrian his free agency. Other notable actions taken by the man in charge include suspending both, Braves pitcher, John Rocker for racial remarks in an issue of sports illustrated and Yankees outfielder Darryl Strawberry for testing positive for cocaine in 2000.
Bud Selig was criticized most for the 2002 All-Star game in which it went into extra innings. In the 11th inning, both the National and American leagues had used up all their pitching. Selig was questioned about what to do and decided to end the game in a 7-7 tie. Because of this game, now the All-Star game means something. The winning team each year now, gets the right to home-field advantage in the World Series.
The last few years it seems that steroids have been bigger than the game itself. The news was talking about the users of steroids more than the season and players on field performances. Every sport around has had random testing for illegal drugs and steroids for many years. Bud Selig placed this random screening into Major League Baseball in 2001. Since then, more and more tests have been taken and many baseball players have been caught and/or have come out with the truth.
In 2002, David Propson wrote in Flak Magazine, “Bud Selig is the dark lord of baseball. He tried to kill two teams last fall, and this summer he has sworn not to give into the player union, even if it turns out to mean provoking a season-ending player’s strike. Fans, reporters, players, and even other owners hate him. Clearly, the man must be a genius.” Genius or not, the MLB seems to be a strong organization and Selig has played a major role.
Many fans have their own opinion on Bud such as Brian Jennings, a junior at Central Connecticut State University who says, “I had no idea Bud Selig was retiring. It’s surprising because he’s been there so long. He has built the MLB to where it is now (successful). He could’ve made the league even better though, by being stronger on the steroid issue and maybe installing a salary cap. Also, baseball would be better in the future with fewer regular season games, so that they don’t end the season playing in cold weather.”
Another opinion was formed by Eric Stadalnik, a freshman at Uconn of Waterbury, he states, “I was aware that Bud Selig was thinking about retirement. I think that he has done all he has been able to do, both good and bad, at this point so I think a change would be good. Much like how better the NFL has been since Roger Goodell took over for Paul Tagliabue a few years ago. I believe with the right person getting the job, the MLB as a whole would benefit greatly. I can’t say I hated him, but I think some things could’ve been better during his time as commissioner, he is replaceable.”
So the fact of the matter is, whether you like Selig’s talk of retirement or not, you must respect him as not only a business man but also as a leader in American athletics. He has had a great love and respect for the sport throughout his life. The actions he has taken show he is strict and not afraid to change the sport for the better. Bud Selig may be replaceable, but it won’t be easy.