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Must-click link: Will Leitch on Bud Selig

May 2, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

Bud Selig

Great column over at New York Magazine from Will Leitch today, in which Will assesses Bud Selig: the most effective commissioner in professional sports.

I can’t help but agree.  His failures have been exceedingly high-profile and photo-worthy, but as Will notes, Selig has learned from them and hasn’t made the same mistake twice. Meanwhile, his successes — which are many and which are underreported — are far more muted due to his consensus-building nature and his complete inability to be a phony, chest-thumper like some other sports bosses we’ve had our fill of lately. Baseball has grown tremendously under his watch, both from a business perspective and, in my view, in terms of the product on the field. Selig deserves credit for much of that and, even where the good stuff hasn’t been his doing, he deserves credit for knowing when to get the hell out of the way.

Selig is far from perfect. And his blackest mark as Commissioner — the 1994-95 strike — may be a sin for which he does not deserve ultimate absolution.  But one need only look at what’s going on elsewhere or to imagine an alternate history in which some of baseball’s other owners took control in the early 90s like Selig did, to see how much worse things could have gone.

  1. Detroit Michael - May 2, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    I must be following contrarian today.

    When you wrote, he hasn’t made the same mistake twice, you must not be counting his participation as an owner in collusion over multiple years, nor his repeated failure to acknowledge that part of baseball’s history while positioning himself as a moral arbiter over other matters. You must also be willing to overlook the multiple times he lied (in my opinion — at least unreasonably misrepresented baseball’s financial fortunes) under oath at Congressional hearings but was fortunate enough to not be prosecuted for it.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t be nearly as harsh about the 1994-95 work stoppage. The nature of collective bargaining is that it sometimes is difficult to assess blame with the two sides don’t reach agreement. Furthermore, 16 years of labor peach since then more than offsets Selig’s role in 1994-95 in my opinion. I don’t think it’s a matter of needing “ultimate absolution” but rather it’s just business.

    • Detroit Michael - May 2, 2011 at 12:12 PM

      “feeling” not “following” — I can use a edit function!

  2. paperlions - May 2, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    The article is a bit selective, there have been multiple owners that were too highly leveraged when allowed to purchase teams (the McCourts, the Wilpons, and Hicks were all highly leveraged from the beginning and all managed to screw up highly profitable teams).
    In addition, the fans of the Oakland A’s might take exception to comparison of Selig taking control of teams while the NFL lets the Bills “twist in the wind” (the Bills make a profit every year)…for that matter, Marlins fans might have some complaints as well…as Selig allowed a guy that ran one team into the ground (Expos) to buy/trade for another one.
    I agree that Selig has been effective and that his successes have been under-reported/recognized. But he has made a number of mistakes (especially regarding owner selection) more than once, and baseball has plenty of franchises that “twist in the wind” while no one does anything about years of losing records with no end in sight.

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