“For a guy who took (the job as Acting Commissioner of MLB) in Sept. 9, 1992, and I told my wife it was two-to-four months — 14 years later … I think that will be enough. There’s no question, because there are other things I really would like to do.” – Bud Selig, April 24, 2003
“My contract is going to be over (in 2009). I’m going to be 75 years of age. I want to teach — I’ve already had some great offers — and want to write a book,” – Bud Selig, December 29, 2006
Those were the words spoken by Commissioner Bud Selig on two separate occasions regarding his intentions not to renew his contract – the first quote pertains to the one that was set to expire in 2006, and the other statement was in regards to his current one, which was to end in 2009.
And yet, here I am, typing this post to talk about today’s announcement that the owners of the 30 MLB teams have given Bud Selig an additional 3-year extension beyond 2009. Did I expect it? Based on Selig’s comment back in December of 2006 (above), and the fact that he sat across from the U.S. Congress just two days ago answering questions about who was responsible for the illegal use of PEDs in baseball, I suppose I was a bit surprised. But in retrospect, none of us really should be.
I don’t think it’s being overtly cynical or shocking to say that there is a big difference between what the fans of baseball want and what the owners of the teams we root for want. Generally speaking, the fans want to be able to cheer for a winning team that’s likable without sacrificing their kids’ college savings. The owners (again, generally speaking) want to maximize the financial success of their teams, and fielding a winning team is a component of this quest for profitability.
And they want the guy who had let them reach this point of financial success to stay in office until the day he dies. Or until the enterprise becomes unprofitable. And that guy is Bud Selig.
For all the talk we do about how PEDs are ruining the game of baseball, we the fans are spending more and more of our money each year to follow our favorite teams. We’re sending mixed signals. The owners of the teams aren’t reading our op-ed pieces in the local papers lambasting the tarnished state of the national pastime. They look at quarterly revenue reports and projections to determine how well the team is doing. If these reports look healthy (and boy, do they ever), they’re happy. And honestly, I don’t blame them.
Let’s face it, you and I may not be, but baseball owners are businessmen. Aside from the Steinbrenner Brothers, pretty much every owner made their own money to purchase the team in the first place. They don’t think like we do and we can’t expect them to. There are far too many of us fans to make sure that each and everyone is happy. But a good place to see if enough of us are happy are in the revenue and attendance figures – and both achieved record highs ($6.1 billion and 79.5 million attendees, respectively) in 2007.
So what reason did they have to not offer Selig an extension? Because he presided over the steroid era and did nothing even though it appears he knew about the problem long before he acknowledged it? Well, so did the owners. Because the price of tickets have grown astronomically over the last ten years? To the owners, that’s a good thing. As long as Major League Baseball remains a lucrative business, they’re going to want Bud Selig in office.
And Bud Selig is going to want to stay as long as he gets Vlad Guerrero money.