Remembering Selig: What’s It Look Like?
On Saturday, Major League Baseball will usher out an old era, and begin a new one. As the calendar turns to January 24, Bud Selig will see his time as Commissioner of Major League Baseball come to an end, and Rob Manfred will step in to take the reins. As Selig’s tenure comes to an end, it’s time to take a look back on what was.
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Bud Selig took over as Commissioner in 1998. He was given the reigns following a six-year search for the successor of Fay Vincent. Prior to his permanent role in the position, he was the acting Commissioner from 1992 onward.
Early in his tenure, Selig was tested by adversity outside of the world of baseball. As the 2001 season was nearing its conclusion, tragedy struck as the events of September 11, 2001 took place before the eyes of the nation. The sporting world became a distant memory, and the hearts of many remained broken. It was Selig who united the nation through the love of a pastime. The 2011 World Series gave New Yorkers something to hang onto, even in defeat.
For Twins fans, 2001 was a season of distaste for the Commissioner as well. Following the World Series, both the Twins and the Expos were awaiting their fate. Both franchises feared contraction, and it was Selig who seemed to have the power. After the dust settle, the Expos would move to Washington, while the Twins would remain in tact.
It was in 2002 that Bud Selig made changes to the mid-summer classic. After allowing the 2002 game in Milwaukee to end in a tie, Selig realized something needed to be done. In making the game “count,” each following All Star Game winner would see home field advantage awarded to their respective league.
2005 was the stain that will continue to haunt everything Selig has done for the game of baseball. He faced Congress on the issue of steroids. Media swarmed to the condemnation of athletes that Selig had now deemed were public enemies of the sport. Unfortunately for Selig, and for baseball, this was a problem he created. By imploring players like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire to clobber baseballs for the fun of the fan, Selig turned a blind eye to the way the game had changed.
Years later, he no decided to backtrack on his problem, and throw all those he once celebrated, in the trash with it. As it stands, the steroid and performance-enhancing drug fallout continues to be felt by candidates worthy of the Hall of Fame, and in the tarnished reputation that befalls a sport that deserves so much better.
After the removal of baseball from the olympics, Selig wanted a way for the game to be played on an international level. Thanks to the introduction of the World Baseball Classic, fans now are able to witness that take place. Although the popularity still isn’t there, the idea stands as a respectable venture in and of itself.
A monumental change to the sport of baseball came in 2008. Bud Selig had decided that he had seen enough home runs go incorrectly called by umpires, that instant replay would be introduced into the game. In an effort to make sure everything was correctly honored, baseball would now be a sport in which replay would be welcomed, at least to a certain extent.
With baseball once again looking for ways to gain in popularity, Selig sought to increase the viewership and competitiveness of the postseason. What better way to do so than by adding another wild card team to each league. In a one game playoff, teams would then have a chance to prove they belonged, and that a late season surge wasn’t a fluke. We have seen this format pay off as recently as last year, when the Kansas City Royals went from the Wild Card, to the World Series, without losing a single game.
2013 would be the year of a shuffle. With Bud Selig and Major League Baseball selling the Houston Astros to Jim Crane, the team would be moved from the National, to the American League. The switch allowed for both leagues to be evenly filled with 15 teams, as well as produced a schedule that provided interleague games throughout the season.
In a final monumental move, baseball, under the direction of Selig, introduced expanded replay in 2014. Similar to football, challenges could be instituted by managers and umpires would be tasked with effectively making the right call. With a hit or miss set of results, the system still appears to have plenty to iron out.
As Bud Selig takes Saturday to step away from his legacy as Commissioner, and allow Rob Manfred to step into the spotlight, there is plenty to still keep an eye on. As baseball looks to perfect reply, increase the pace of the game, and further clean up the sanctity of the sport, problems still pending become Manfred’s.
In a tenure that can be seen as taking steps both forward and backwards, Saturday should be a day of thanking Bud Selig for the service he provided the sport. Regardless of the missteps made, the time to celebrate the accomplishments is now.
Next: 2015 Twins: Winning On The Horizon