How we will we remember Bud Selig? As the bumbling commissioner who oversaw a canceled World Series, the rise of the Steroids Era and a tied All-Star Game? Or as the business visionary who keyed important reforms and oversaw unprecedented growth for the nation's pastime?
That's the question Ben Reiter attempts to answer in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated, taking a revealing look at Selig's legacy less than three months before his tenure as MLB commissioner comes to an end.
Driven by a childhood love of baseball, Selig rose quickly in life, eventually landing an MLB franchise in Milwaukee in 1970 at the age of 35. He continued to rise through the ranks of MLB's leadership until he became acting commissioner in 1992, then promoted to permanent commissioner in 1998.
Looking back at Selig's acts as commissioner, a pattern can be found: Intense, even vitriolic, opposition at the time, giving way to almost universal acceptance.
Owners pushed back on issues such as revenue sharing, playoff expansion and modernization of the game, but as Reiter notes, Selig almost always eventually landed unanimous approval, and his actions have seen baseball's revenues rise from $1.2 billion when he entered the commissionership to close to $9 billion now.
Selig is still criticized for the strike that canceled the 1994 World Series and the inability for MLB to prevent the rapid rise of steroids into the game, but while he says he wishes things could've turned out differently, he's not sure what he could've done to have made that happen. Regarding his regrets, he says, "I don't really have many of those."
Selig will be succeeded by Rob Manfred, the former chief operating officer for MLB, in January.
For more on Selig's tenure as MLB commissioner, check out this week's Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).
Also featured in this issue are an investigation on the nation’s homeless problem among young athletes, Greg Bishop's look at the Dallas Cowboys' surprising defense, a story on the rise of college football in Mississippi and a revealing book excerpt from Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells.
- Ben Estes