Bud Selig announced yesterday that he would be retiring as the Commissioner of Major League Baseball (M.L.B.) after the 2014 season after more than 20 years as Commissioner. This is not the first time he has announced his plans to retire so there is always a chance he may change his decision over the next year. However, he will turn 80 next July so it appears likely he may mean it this time.
Let’s take a closer look at Bud Selig:
Mr. Selig was born on July 30th 1934 in Milwaukee Wisconsin during the height of the Great Depression. He holds a B.A. in American History and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was a larger stockholder of the Milwaukee Braves, while the team was in Milwaukee, before selling his interest in the team when it moved to Atlanta. He then formed his own company to pursue the return of an M.L.B. to Milwaukee, something that he accomplished in 1970 when he purchased the bankrupt Seattle Pilots and persuaded the American League allow him to move the team to Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Brewers (named after the breweries in the city) have been in Milwaukee ever since. The team made the playoffs in 1981 and made it to the World Series in 1982, losing in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals. He transferred ownership of the team to his daughter in 1992 when he became Acting Commissioner.
Fay Vincent resigned as Commissioner of baseball in 1992 after losing a no-confidence vote. As Mr. Selig was Chairman of the Executive Council of Major League Baseball, and became Acting Commissioner after the resignation as the most senior person in baseball at the time. During his time as Acting Commissioner, he oversaw the 1994 players strike, resulting in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. He also introduced a third division in each league, as well as the Wild Card for the playoffs. 1995 would see the first time that four teams made the postseason in each league (this was supposed to be implemented in 1994 but could not be done thanks to the players strike.)
His time as Acting Commissioner also saw the introduction of Interleague play, the creation of two new teams: the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (in the American League) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (in the National League.) This expansion resulted in 15 teams in each league, so the Milwaukee Brewers – his old team – was transferred from the American League to the National League. He was made the permanent Commissioner during the 1998 season.
Commissioner of Baseball
After becoming the permanent Commissioner, Mr. Selig expanded the power of the Commissioner’s Office by amalgamating both leagues into the MLB and vesting power, not with the League President, but with the Commissioner. He also merged the A.L. and N.L. umpire pools into one controlled by the M.L.B.
He created some controversy in 2002 when the All-Star games was tied after 11 innings of play. He gave into requests by the mangers of the teams to end the game in a tie. The All-Star game was changed the following year to give the winning team (either the A.L. or N.L.) would receive home field advantage in the World Series. Prior to 2003, the leagues alternated home field advantage (the N.L. had home field advantage in even numbered years and the A.L. had home field advantage in odd numbered years), but now the league that wins the All-Star game gets home field advantage. This issue is still debated today.
Other highlights of his career include:
- The Montreal Expos moved to Washington, to become the Washington Nationals, after the 2004 season.
- An unbalanced schedule starting in 2001.
- Jackie Robinson Day (April 15th) starting in 2004.
- The creation of the World Baseball Classic.
- Stricter rules regarding performance enhancing drugs.
- The introduction of Instant Replay on disputed homeruns beginning in the 2008 season.
- The moving of the Houston Astros from the Central Division of the National League to the West Division of the American League beginning in time for the 2013 season.
- Interleague play during the full season starting with the 2013 season thanks to the Astros moving between leagues.
- A second wild card team in each league, and a one game ‘winner take all’ game between the two wild card teams in 2012.
Mr. Selig has had a long tenure, and overall has done a good job for baseball in my opinion. However, while other professional sports leagues have a salary cap, baseball still does not. However, other then the 1994 strike, Mr. Selig has been able to avoid anymore work stoppages, so should be complemented for that. I wish him all the best in his upcoming retirement.