If you're a billionaire who owns a baseball team, everything you will read below is absolutely true:
Bud Selig is the greatest commissioner in baseball’s history. I and some others first claimed that about a year ago, and I see no reason to change that assessment. The executive summary of the Case for Bud, keeping in mind that his job has been to serve baseball as a sport and the owners as a favored constituency, not to make the general citizenry happy:
- Since the 1994-95 strike, he has reigned over two decades of labor peace, with multiple collective bargaining agreements being ratified without a work stoppage;
- Baseball’s attendance has skyrocketed, with teams averaging over 2.5 million tickets sold a year, whereas when he took over half the teams didn’t even draw two million;
- Tremendous revenue growth. Baseball is now a nearly $10 billion a year industry. Revenues were just over a billion a year when he took over. More significantly to the owners, the value of franchises — the appreciation of which is how these guys make serious money — have gone through the roof;
- A near complete turnover of the ballpark inventory in the game. With a couple of exceptions, every team that has wanted a new ballpark has gotten one and damn few of them have had to pay for most or, in a lot of cases, any of these palaces;
- The successful adoption and exploitation of online media and online platforms which is unmatched in professional sports. Indeed, MLB Advanced Media serves as the digital platform for many other sports and entertainment outlets;
- Innovations like the wild card, interleague play and expanded playoffs which, while distressing to baseball purists, have helped drive those revenue and ticket sales increases and — maybe more significantly — shook baseball out of the mindset that nothing can be changed in the game without an act of God and the ghost of Honus Wagner appearing to 18 of the 30 owners in a vision on the top of a mountain; and
- The taming — relatively speaking — of the performance enhancing drug scourge that peaked in baseball in the 1990s and early 2000s.
If you are a fan of baseball, congratulations for surviving the Bud Selig era. The game has abandoned many fans, especially anyone who considers themselves an actual fan of how the game was intended to be played.
Miami Marlins fans still don't show up to watch their team play. That's an accomplishment?
The game has robbed the public blind. The building of publicly-funded ballparks all over the country has come at the expense of local governments. They now have less money for education and infrastructure. Congratulations, baseball owners. You have looted the public treasury in order to make your franchise more valuable. Threats of contraction were concocted in order to throw up monuments to folly. No one who thinks rationally could conclude that having a city build your ballpark for you so you can watch the value of your franchise balloon up is an achievement. You didn't build that has never been more apt.
Instant replay? Really? That's an "achievement?" That's a cop-out.
Bud Selig has managed to move the Milwaukee Brewers from the American League to the National League while moving the Houston Astros into the American League. The fact that Selig used to own the Brewers is irrelevant--baseball has been improved by these shenanigans, don't you see?
And steroids are consigned to the history of the game. You can see that in the fact that nobody hits that many home runs anymore. All that has been confirmed is this fact--cheating was far more rampant than previously understood. Congrats, baseball. Your record book should come with asterisks on the front.
Baseball is now a game played in front of white middle-class Americans by Hispanic players. You have to be fairly wealthy to see more than a few games in one season. And the diversity of the game has been all but eliminated.