On Thursday, Commissioner Bud Selig officially announced that he will retire upon the completion of his contract, which expires after the 2014 season. In his statement to the media, released by Major League Baseball, Selig acknowledged that the game is on a whole other level than it was when he took over as acting commissioner in 1992.
“It remains my great privilege to serve the game I have loved throughout my life,” Selig said. “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.”
At the completion of his contract, Selig will have presided over Major League Baseball for 21 years. As the games ninth commissioner, his 21-year term will rank second to only Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who served 24 seasons.
The historical record will forever be divided over Bud Selig’s legacy. Selig oversaw tremendous growth in the game, seeing the industry of baseball grow by nearly $7 million annually (h/t MLB Trade Rumors). He has also helped to institute some fairly positive changes in the game, including Interleague Play, the Wild Card expansion, the competitive balance tax, the introduction of instant replay, and numerous new stadiums.
However, Selig will also be haunted by some very major issues during his tenure. Most notable among the issues is the game’s continued struggle with steroids and their mark on the record books. While increased drug testing and cooperation with the MLBPA has helped some of those concerns, the history of the game is indelibly clouded by PED-aided statistics and accomplishments. That fact was front and center during the last Cooperstown vote in 2013, when no single player won election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Also hurting Selig’s legacy were the 1994 Strike, which cancelled the World Series, although the sport has endured unprecedented labor peace since.
Bud Selig will also have a tough time winning over fans here in Canada, who will forever associate him with moving one of the country’s two MLB franchises, the Montreal Expos, to Washington, DC to become the Nationals.
So I ask you, loyal Jays Journal readers and baseball fans alike, will Bud Selig be seen as leaving the game in better or worse shape than when he took over the reins?