Memo to MLB teams: Don't put away all the "farewell" banners and party supplies you used when Mariano Rivera came to town in 2013. You're going to need 'em in 2014. Commissioner Bud Selig — set to retire next January, for real this time — says he wants to have a "farewell tour" of his own.
You'll recall that Rivera, the famed New York Yankees closer, visited with fans and behind-the-scenes workers at each stadium he was playing in the for the final time. Opposing teams showered him with gifts — both cool and weird. The media purred about how classy it was.
Now, Big Daddy Bud wants in on the action. Selig told ESPN's Jayson Stark that he wants to meet with the Average Joes and Janes who make stadiums run, and the fans who enjoy the games:
"I want to talk to season-ticket holders and fans," he said. "I've got a lot of people to thank."
That idea came about, he said, in part because several clubs reached out to him after his announcement and asked to honor him, but also because Rivera's farewell tour got Selig to thinking about ways to connect with people who love baseball.
"I like that," Selig said. "I like talking to people. And ... that's what I want to do: [speak to] season-ticket holders, people who work at ballparks. I just like to walk around and talk to people. I love that. I did that when I ran the Brewers. And I enjoyed it. I miss that.
"Many people ask me, 'Is there anything you miss [about owning a team]?' And that's it. I really miss all that. I knew every vendor. And you knew what they were thinking, too, because they'll tell you, especially if your team is losing."
Selig isn't exactly as beloved among baseball fans as Rivera is. Even in Yankee-hating places, most people would admit that Mo was a legend and deserved a spectacular send-off. But Selig? Sure, people will be happy to meet with him because he's the commissioner of baseball — and how often do you get that chance? — but, at the same time, there are many baseball fans who don't exactly love him.
Selig realizes this and told ESPN that in the '90s he wouldn't have attempted something like a farewell tour because he was so unpopular. Now, he thinks things are different.
Either way, baseball fans, it's time to mentally prepare yourself for Selig's farewell season and lots of smarmy celebration. We're going to have at least 30 parties for him. He's going to throw out a first pitch or 12, and he'll probably get a nice stack of presents.
The Stew will offer a hearty pat on the back and a legit LOL to the first club that gives Selig a bag of gummy bears as a gift.
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