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An columnist pens a love letter to baseball commissioners

Aug 19, 2011, 9:53 AM EDT

Bud Selig Reuters

I long ago abandoned the notion that was Pravda or something, which is what I first thought it would be when it started up. The reporting there is very good, and sometimes great. Many of the beat writers are much better than the newspaper guys who cover the same beat. Many of the columnists are aces. If they made videos instantly and freely embeddable I’d probably make the place my home page, but let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

But once in a while something shows up over there that makes me scratch my head. A year or two ago there was a five-part “analysis” of some of the labor issues facing baseball. After two parts were published, each of which basically left out the players’ side of the story and seemed to be pretty credulous of the owners’ claims, it abruptly ended.  I’ve always wondered if the reporter who wrote that — a good reporter, by the way — was getting boned by heavy-handed editors and simply said that he couldn’t go on with it. And while it was a rare incident, I have kept it in mind when I read things over there. You just gotta keep your guard up whenever an institution is reporting on itself, as is the case with all of the league websites.

My sensors went off again today with Hal Bodley’s latest column. It reflects on Bud Selig’s legacy in light of the creation of that Commissioner’s Archive I mentioned yesterday which bears his name, and it’s a surprisingly non-critical look at Selig as well as the other Commissioners whose work will be documented there.

According to Bodley, Selig “had to endure the 1994-95 players strike,” when in fact he and like-minded owners fomented it.  He talks about Selig’s early struggles to gain acceptance as Commissioner without acknowledging that, for whatever good things Selig has done since then, he basically took over in a palace coup, which makes his transition problems pretty darn understandable.

Bodley likewise positively spins the work of other Commissioners like Uberroth (he slayed the cocaine dragon!), Kuhn (he and Charlie Finley were nutty!) and Landis (he restored order after the Black Sox Scandal!) without noting that each of them — especially Landis — were just as responsible for baseball’s problems during their reign than they were for advancing the game.  Commissioners are active players with their own agendas and they always have been. They’re not independent, Solomonic leaders.

Do I expect Bodley to viciously rip the Commissioners in an piece? No. But A tongue bath is just as inappropriate in my view.

  1. dirtyharry1971 - Aug 19, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Selig is the worse comish in MLB history and needs to go ASAP, case closed

    • kiwicricket - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:16 AM

      And you my dear Sir, are the worse practitioner of the English language I have ever shared the internet with.

      • nategearhart - Aug 19, 2011 at 11:07 AM


      • kiwicricket - Aug 19, 2011 at 11:38 AM

        Ahhhh yep. I know that Nate.

      • Utley's Hair - Aug 19, 2011 at 11:43 AM

        In harry’s defense (holy crap, did I just type that?!? I just threw up in my mouth…), but there are others on HBT who butcher it worse than he does.

        That said, I feel the need to go break a maple bat over my head.

    • nlfan865 - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:52 AM

      Dirty…. you are correct sir, hands down bud selig is the worst excuse for a commisioner this sport has ever seen…the state of the union under his watch is a horrible mess…from expansion to the steroid era to the extended playoffs and this joke of the all star game. to me he isnt fit to run barnum and bailey.but that is what the owners wanted a W. We got stuck with a Quayle…we all know where this is going and for god sake it cant come quick enough… Will Joe Torre be our Brutus

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:57 AM

        Wait a sec, are you serious? Selig is worse than Bettman? Worse than Stern? Gooddell is an asshole of the highest order and far worse than Selig

        the state of the union under his watch is a horrible mess

        Ok you must be trolling. The MLBPA is the strongest union in sports, by far. Either you are pro-owners and want the game to return to pre-free agency, or there’s no way you can believe this.

      • nlfan865 - Aug 24, 2011 at 8:59 PM

        church lady….when i say the worst commisioner this sport has seen im talking baseball not any other sport. the players union has gotten stronger solely based on the grevious mistakes ownership has impressed upon baseball in the name of greed and not the game…can you say collusion…the commissioners office starting with KM Landis was intended to save baseball from the mismanagement of management. with the coup of F.Vincent and the acceleration to the thrown by Selig a former owner the best interest of baseball got swept out the door…

  2. Old Gator - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    Ten better ideas for whom to write love letters to:

    (1) the fire ant queen in your backyard mound;

    (2) the dentist from your childhood, all of whose fillings are coming loose at fifty times the price your mommy paid to have them done in the first place;

    (3) your neighbor’s unspayed bitch, who yowls all night when your insomnia medication is barely working anyway;

    (4) the corporate lobbyist who owns your congressman;

    (5) Jamie McCourt;

    (6) Caylee Anthony’s lawyer;

    (7) the golden orb weaver who keeps on spinning his amazingly tough and sticky web at face level just beyond the arc of your patio screen door no matter how many times you take your broom to it;

    (8) Nancy Pelosi;

    (9) the TSA matron with the Camp LeJeune crewcut and Schwarzenegger biceps who didn’t trust the full body scanner the last time you tried to fly to a relative’s funeral;

    (10) Craig Calcaterra

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:18 AM

      OK, that was pretty funny, although I don’t get two of them…

      #6…did you mean Casey Anthony’s attorney? Or the prosecution, indirectly Caylee’s I guess? Because they are the ones I blame the most in the whole thing.

      #10…Craig doesn’t really fit in with those other 9, all of whom I can’t stand. Craig, for ALL of his faults(Braves fan, Master Baiter, etc) is a good guy.

      • Old Gator - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:23 AM


        Casey Anthony’s attorney. Duh-uhhhh. Thanks for making me feel stupid. I need to be humbled a little in the morning before I leave home and interact with people. I hate the way they look at me as it is. Not as much as I hate the way meerkats look at me. But just the same.

        Edit function!
        Edit function!

      • Old Gator - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:24 AM

        PS – I included Craig because it’s traditional to shoot the messenger.

      • CJ - Aug 19, 2011 at 11:33 AM

        CF, I’m just curious if that pun for #10 was intentional or not. hilarious

      • FC - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:33 PM

        Of course it’s intentional! It’s our way of giving Craig credit for being good at what he does.

    • stlouis1baseball - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:00 PM

      Oustanding Gator!

  3. shaggylocks - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    “They’re not independent, Solomonic leaders.”

    Except, of course, for A. Bartlett Giamatti. Rest in peace, philosopher king…

    • Old Gator - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      I think Bart is taking time for paradise while son Paul does him proud. Want to laugh hard? Imagine any spawn of Selig’s playing his role in Sideways?

      • kiwicricket - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:31 AM

        hahaha…. I have actually worked at one of the Wineries. Had never seen the flick until someone made me watch it while I was there. Fantastic part of the world, very beautiful. Stayed on a ranch, and my next-door neighbor was Neverland. HOLY CRAP have I got some stories about that place!

      • Old Gator - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:39 AM

        Neverland doesn’t interest me; I’ve already seen El Topo. But winery stories, yeah, I’m all ears.

  4. fearlessleader - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    Just FYI, it’s “Ueberroth.” :)

  5. paul621 - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    Craig: For context, what are your thoughts on Bodley in general? Does he get the “boned by editors” defense like the other guy you noted?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:15 PM

      I don’t know. He’s been around a long time and I can’t imagine him being a tool of some pro-MLB editorial policy. But it works both ways. Perhaps Bodley is quite pro-Selig and pro-commissioners and wrote a piece that, had it been published elsewhere, would have been sent back to him with orders to be a bit more even-handed in his handling of their legacies. Here? Maybe the editors were fine with the love letter.

  6. Chipmaker - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Bodley has been around forever, though I can only remember his tenure at USA Today. From the general tenor he provided there, though, one got the sense that if he wanted to ask Selig a question, all he had to do was roll over in bed and tap him on the shoulder.

    Metaphorically, anyway.

  7. king3319 - Aug 19, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    Gator….Lmfao!!!! Well done I’m cryin I’m laughing so hard!!! And cuz all of them are right on the money!!! I’m also pissed cuz you beat me to it!!!!

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