Bud Selig has talked for a while about when he'll leave Major League Baseball's commissioner's office, but he made it official on Thursday. He'll retire following the 2014 season, technically on Jan. 24, 2015.
In a statement announcing his retirement timeline, Selig said:
“It remains my great privilege to serve the game I have loved throughout my life. Baseball is the greatest game ever invented, and I look forward to continuing its extraordinary growth and addressing several significant issues during the remainder of my term. I am grateful to the owners throughout Major League Baseball for their unwavering support and for allowing me to lead this great institution. I thank our players, who give me unlimited enthusiasm about the future of our game. Together we have taken this sport to new heights and have positioned our national pastime to thrive for generations to come. Most of all, I would like to thank our fans, who are the heart and soul of our game.”
Sixteen more months will give us plenty of time to reflect on what Selig, 79, did for the game of baseball and for MLB since taking over as commissioner on Sept. 9, 1992. It will also allow his critics time to tell us all the things he messed up. Heck, it'll give Bud time to go on a Mariano Rivera-like "farewell tour" if he wants. (For some reason, we don't picture Metallica playing at that party.)
[Related: Who will be baseball's next commissioner?]
With Selig's retirement date now on the calendar, we're giving you five good things and five bad things he did for baseball. Keep in mind, not everything is black or white. Some decisions had both good and bad consequences like the time he brought baseball back to Washington D.C. by allowing the Expos to founder in Montreal.
1. He helped teams make a lot of money: When Selig took over in 1992, MLB's gross revenues were $1.2 billion. He said in 2011 that one of his goals was to find ways to increase that number to $2 billion. Well, last season, baseball made $7.5 billion.
2. He ushered in an era of newer, mega ballparks: Twenty new MLB ballparks have opened during Selig's reign. That, of course, helps item No. 1 on this list. It's also brought an era of modern amenities and a more exciting fan experience throughout the league. Of course, there are a few teams still waiting for those new stadiums. So, Oakland A's fans, we understand if you don't agree with this item.
3. He switched up postseason formats in attempt to make the playoffs more exciting: You can debate all you want about wild cards in the playoffs, but you have to admire the motive for bringing them into baseball. Who doesn't want a more exciting postseason with more teams involved? Of the notable postseason decisions that Selig will be remembered for, this one isn't the worst. (How's that for foreshadowing?)
4. He kept the game strike-free since 1995: Of the four major professional sports, Major League Baseball is the one furthest removed from its last strike or lockout. That's something, right? Of course, baseball had its big strike that we all remember (and, patience, we'll get to that too) but at least Selig & Co. have kept things calm for the last 19 years.
5. He allowed the rise of MLB.com and helped baseball fans embrace technology: Some people think of baseball as old and slow, too steeped in tradition to be progressive, but MLB did a fine job of getting ahead of the curve on the consumer side. MLB.com has proven a valuable resource for baseball fans and products such as MLB.tv have brought the game to people in new ways. Now, Bud Selig has never sent an e-mail, so we can't say he's the visionary on this stuff, but he had the right people in place to implement it.
1. He tried to fight PEDs and lost: Yes, there were a lot of headlines this year about MLB suspending players for performance-enhancing drug use. But 17 players connected to one clinic doesn't make up for the biggest cloud that will mar Selig's legacy. PEDs tarnished baseball's reputation greatly under Selig's watch. Even a 500-game suspension for Alex Rodriguez couldn't rectify that.
2. He let a strike end the 1994 season: Remember that time the MLB season ended on Aug. 11, when Tony Gwynn was hitting .394 and the Montreal Expos had the best record in baseball? That would have made for a fun September, right? Nope. A strike shortened the rest of the 1994 season and Selig's name will always be associated with that.
3. He made the All-Star Game weird: We'll always remember Selig when the All-Star Game comes around for two reasons: First, he let it end in that strange tie back at Miller Park back in 2002. That directly led to an even stranger thing happened: He decided that the winner of the All-Star Game would give its World Series representative home-field advantage. Many baseball fans are still shaking their heads at that one.
4. He dragged his feet on the use of replay: Replay is coming to baseball next season, with challenge flags and everything. Cool? Stupid? No matter where you stand on the flags, we can all agree with this: It's long overdue that baseball did something definitive about instant replay. Embrace it and make comp use of it — or say, "we're keeping it old school, mistakes happen." Instead, we've dealt with a system for years that refused to be defined as one or the other.
5. He's leaving Florida a mess: Four new teams entered the league since Selig took over and two of them were in Florida. The Miami Marlins have an owner, Jeffrey Loria, who is the most hated in the game, who has already destroyed one franchise and looks to be running another into the ground. He duped Miami taxpayers with promises of a contender if they built him a new stadium with public money. He got the stadium, but Miami didn't get its contender. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays are a well-run franchise who are stuck in a place where no one wants to see them play. Florida needs some cleaning up, so his successor is going to have some work to do.
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