Bud Selig isn't stepping down anytime soon. (AP)No disrespect to Bud Selig, but we've apparently reached the point where it's OK to throw out the old line about pine boxes when it comes to him surrendering his title as commissioner of baseball.
Callous and crude, even when uttered by those of us who like him?
But also increasingly possible (by definition, we mean) after ESPN's Buster Olney reported on Tuesday that Selig will receive at least a two-year contract extension when the owners meet later this week. The 2012 season is the last on Selig's current contract and the 77-year-old hasn't been shy about telling people he wants to become a history professor at the University of Wisconsin when he retires from baseball.
But as we've said before, we'd believe it when we see it. Selig has announced and reiterated plans to retire on many different occasions over the past decade, but never actually followed through with them. He's a very stubborn man.
As Pat Lackey wrote on Fanhouse back in 2009:
A quick search turns up a 2006 article in which Selig claims that he'll happily retire in 2009 and references a prior claim by Selig in 2003 that he would retire in 2006. It also mentions that during his six years as acting commissioner, he repeatedly said he wouldn't take the job full-time. So Selig's been about to retire for nearly all of his 20 years at the helm of America's pastime.
The choice to change his mind entirely belongs to Selig, of course. It would admittedly be hard for anyone to walk away from a compensation package that's around $20 million every season. Since he's healthy and enjoys doing the job, why not continue working? As Maury Brown points out, he also has a bunch of uncompleted battles to fight with unresolved ownership situations in Los Angeles and New York as well as stadium fights in Oakland and Tampa Bay.
Thing is, there's always going to be something with baseball. The evolving nature of the league makes it almost impossible for a clean handoff. If Selig is really searching for a clear landing spot, he's probably not going to find one.
And if we're really being truthful, it's possible he won't find a softer landing spot than the one he has right now. Of all the years for Bud to retire, 2012 seemed like a good fit. The new collective bargaining agreement has been signed without incident, the sport is in strong financial shape and two of Bud's pet projects — the World Baseball Classic and playoff expansion — have found their wings. His tenure would have ended at an even 20 seasons with plenty of positives accrued along the way for a pretty good legacy.
But Bud and the owners apparently want more with Tuesday's news. That's fine, though I have no idea why they'd just stop at two seasons when they should just go ahead and acknowledge the truth.
For better or worse, Bud has become commissioner for life.
Even if he won't admit it.
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