Bud Selig Has AIDS

Bud Selig issued a statement this week reacting to Mark McGwire’s steroid confession.

I am pleased that Mark McGwire has confronted his use of performance-enhancing substances as a player. Being truthful is always the correct course of action, which is why I had commissioned Senator George Mitchell to conduct his investigation. This statement of contrition, I believe, will make Mark’s reentry into the game much smoother and easier.

The most surprising and galling aspect of the statement is not that Selig takes the opportunity to promote himself, nor that he glorifies George Mitchell’s famously botched investigation, nor that he continues to avoid taking any responsibility for the steroids era.

It’s that Bud Selig still has a job.

To illustrate, here’s a one-act play:

EXT. APPLE ORCHARD – DAY

It’s a beautiful summer day in June 1994. A young THE DILEMMA has just watched Don Mattingly go 3-6 with a walk to help the first-place Yankees beat the defending World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays 9-2. He wanders into a deserted apple orchard and settles under the base of a tree for a quick nap. He wakes up 15 years later when a MODERN BASEBALL FAN trips over him.

THE DILEMMA

(rubs eyes)
Wha…what happened?

MODERN BASEBALL FAN

I don’t know man, you were just lying here asleep.

THE DILEMMA

Fuck, I feel like I’ve been asleep for a while. What day is today?

MODERN BASEBALL FAN

Monday.

THE DILEMMA

Holy shit, I’ve been asleep here since Saturday. Hey, do you know if the Yankees won yesterday?

MODERN BASEBALL FAN

Dude, it’s January.

THE DILEMMA

Hey wait a minute – what year is this???

MODERN BASEBALL FAN

2009.

THE DILEMMA

Fuck! I’ve been asleep since 1994!

MODERN BASEBALL FAN

Huh.

THE DILEMMA

Wait a second, wait a second, just tell me one thing – did the Yankees hang on and win the World Series in ’94?

MODERN BASEBALL FAN

Umm…yeah. About that….actually, there was no World Series that year.

THE DILEMMA

No World Series?? Oh my God! What happened? Was there a nuclear attack? Were we in World War III? God, please tell me. Is my family OK? Do we still live in a civilized society? Was there an outbreak? A super earthquake?

MODERN BASEBALL FAN

Actually, there was a lockout beginning in August, and the rest of the season was eventually cancelled. They even missed some of the next season.

THE DILEMMA

Are you fucking kidding me? No World Series? Over a labor dispute? The World Series is a sacred cultural institution. How did they let that happen? What was the fallout? Were there massive changes in the game after that?

MODERN BASEBALL FAN

Eh. Not really. A little revenue sharing, that’s about it.

THE DILEMMA

So the World Series, one of America’s few lasting connections with its past, was cancelled for nothing? My God. Did we put Fehr and Selig in jail after that?

MODERN BASEBALL FAN

Actually, Selig was made permanent commissioner a couple years later, and he’s still commissioner today.

THE DILEMMA

(dies of broken heart)

FADE OUT.

Bud Selig presided over the cancellation of a baseball season, and he was rewarded with a promotion and a raise. Bud Selig has a track record so ugly, so filled with incompetence and deceit, that it’s a miracle baseball has survived under his watch. Bud Selig, friends, is an asshole.

Every time there’s a new “break” in the steroids story, our sports media falls all over itself trying to put things in perspective, assign blame, and reassess the big picture. But they miss the lede every single time – that Bud Selig allowed all of this to happen, and that he still has a job, despite being the most biased and least able head of a major sport in recent memory (and that includes Gary Bettman).

Selig was installed as temporary commissioner by his fellow owners after the ouster of Faye Vincent, and the boys’ club finally had what they always wanted – one of their own running the show. Beginning with Kennesaw Mountain Landis, the role of baseball commissioner was intended to serve the game, and fans, with the commissioner acting as an authoritative arbiter over disputes between owners and players, and owners and other owners. The role wasn’t always filled well, but allowing an active owner to step into the position was a betrayal of everyone who cares about the game, and the principle of fairness.

Selig’s resume of failure is unparalleled:

Cancelled the World Series
The impact of his lack of leadership here cannot be understated. Keith Olbermann wore a black armband on SportsCenter the night he had to announce the rest of the season would not be played. We all should have worn black armbands. We should all still be wearing black armbands. THE FUCKING WORLD SERIES WAS CANCELLED.

Destroyed Baseball’s Public Image
Baseball’s commissioner did more PR damage to his sport over 15 years than the Chicago Black Sox, racial segregation, ARod and Barry Bonds have done over a century. Selig was so obsessed with increasing revenue sharing for his small-market Brewers, and his small-market pals like Carl Pohlad (the company a man keeps, etc. etc.), that he constantly bad-mouthed the sport he was supposed to promote.

Even as attendance and revenue grew, and baseball fans showed a shocking inability to be turned off their beloved game by steroids, Selig did his level best to send baseball to WNBA levels of popularity. Almost everything Selig has ever said to the media falls into one of three categories:

  1. Attempting to show baseball is in horrible financial shape so he can pocket more money from big market teams. Ex: “There are many franchises today, and again I could begin to articulate them one by one, who have deep trouble. … We have a remarkable number of teams losing a lot of money.”
  2. Helping billionaire owners bilk taxpayers out of money for unnecessary new stadiums. Ex: ”I believe in this market. You give the Marlins a new stadium with all the revenue streams their competitors have, and this will be a great franchise, I’m very confident.”
  3. Brazen self-promotion (as opposed to promoting the image of the sport he has been trusted to run). Ex: “Having lived through the work stoppages of ‘72, ‘76, ‘80, ‘81, ‘85, ‘90, ‘94, that you’d have 16 years of labor peace, peace with the umpires, it’s one of the things I’m very proud of.” (Are you fucking kidding me? He really said that?)
  4. Inane drivel. Ex: ““We’ve talked about that, and we’ll continue to talk about that.”

Selig should have been baseball’s biggest champion. Instead, he propped himself up at the game’s expense every chance he got. Oh, and he also tried to contract two franchises, explaining to their fan bases that the teams shouldn’t exist.

Committed Fraud
Let’s review another atrocity that’s been swept under the rug like the Rwandan genocide:

  • Bud Selig allowed Jeffrey Loria to run the Montreal Expos into the ground, and then sell the franchise to the other 29 owners.
  • Selig brokered a deal for Loria to buy the Florida Marlins from pal John Henry.
  • Henry was then given a sweetheart deal to buy the Boston Red Sox, despite many other bidders.
  • Major League Baseball further decimated the Expos franchise, then sold them to a Washington, D.C. ownership group.

Who got screwed in the process? Let’s see:

  • The city of Montreal, which had baseball taken away from it despite a dedicated fan base
  • The city of Miami, which is cursed with a hateful owner who puts the worst possible product on the field and constantly threatens to move the team
  • Every other ownership group bidding for the Red Sox, who were all denied a fair shot
  • Baseball fans everywhere, who have to deal with Loria, Henry and a joke of a franchise in Washington.

And who benefitted? Selig and his pals. A handful of rich guys.

Allowed and Inflamed the Steroids Era
Under Bud’s watch, baseball sluggers ballooned in size and sacred records were crushed. The single season home run record, which had stood for 37 years, was broken by two players in the same season, with the ultimate victor passing the old mark by 14 percent. And Bud never asked a question. He was happy to sit back, market the shit out of the home run chase, and applaud as McGwire and Sosa “saved” baseball – from the very problem Selig himself created with the lockout. And now, he claims he knew nothing about the possibility of any players using steroids. Bullshit, Bud.

We all knew. If you didn’t know McGwire and Sosa were on steroids in 1998, then you were a fucking moron. I can make an exception for the most ardent Cardinals and Cubs fans, who tricked themselves into believing what they were seeing was real. The rest of us knew. We didn’t suspect. We knew. Sportswriters, fans, owners, players, everybody. I get ill every time I read a column from Jayson Stark or Tim Kurkjian about how we were tricked that summer (and every ensuing summer) – how we were misled to believe in the magic of baseball again. How we were later stunned and wronged when we learned the horrid truth. Again, bullshit.

Everyone in their right mind figured out that the sluggers were on steroids, even if we perhaps didn’t realize the extent to which steroid culture had infiltrated locker rooms. It wouldn’t have taken a strong leader or a great man to demand an investigation, to begin asking questions, to negotiate drug testing with the union. But to do nothing at all, to fiddle while Cooperstown burned, that took an exceptional man indeed.

Selig was content to let the Steroids Era fester, to see the integrity of the game mocked, until Congress forced his hand. Only then did he create the Mitchell Investigation – one of the biggest farces ever perpetrated on the American public.

Bud, who himself was appointed to his current position by cronies, appointed one of his other cronies to run a sham of an investigation into steroids in baseball. Any righteous examination of the situation would have assigned the vast majority of blame for the rampant drug use to baseball’s leaders, to Selig himself. Instead, Mitchell compiled an infamous list of every player for whom he heard even the faintest rumors of being connected to steroids or HGH. Mitchell’s inquisitors compiled the list with prejudice, and with total ignorance of the scientific method. They found a few rats who would talk to them (mostly assistant-trainer types with no credibility), found no corroborating evidence, and went public with the players the rats implicated.

The Mitchell Investigation resulted in the public shaming of a handful of players despite a complete lack of proof. And Selig thought he’d done his job, that the book could now be closed on the putrid era he created.

What Bud didn’t understand, what he still doesn’t understand, is that by burying his head in the sand for so long, he created a thirst for blood in the sports media. Stark and Kurkjian and Mike Lupica and Skip Bayless feel betrayed, because they were so stupid in the first place, and were made to look like idiots for their glowing profiles of McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens, et al. Now they’ll never rest. They want pelts. They want scalps.

Bud Selig has never accepted responsibility for any problem within the game of baseball. He’s blamed the players union, the collective bargaining process, arbitrators, big market owners, everyone but the man in the mirror.

How he remains in power and continues to fail upward is a mystery: he’s not slick, not persuasive, not smart, not well liked. Yet here he remains.

Someone, somewhere, needs to do a Woodward-and-Bernstein-style takedown of Bud Selig and Major League Baseball’s leaders over the past 15 years. Too bad journalism’s dead.

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1 Comment

Filed under Sports Has AIDS, The Dilemma

One response to “Bud Selig Has AIDS

  1. Pingback: Commissioner Cage Match: Checking In on the Cretins in Charge of our Sports | Pop Culture Has AIDS

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