This Bud’s to Blame

Allan H. “Bud” Selig became Commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1992 (as Acting Commissioner) and 1998 (full-fledged Commish).  Funny coincidence that Selig becomes the commish in 1998, the same year that steroids, in the embodiment of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, burst onto the national stage, to save baseball from the disdain in the mouths of fans stemming from the 1994 strike.

Today, it was reported that Selig told Newsday two key things:

  • “I don’t want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to this or he didn’t care about it. That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I’m sensitive to the criticism.”
  • “Starting in 1995, I tried to institute a steroid policy.”

Bud, I have news for you.  As de facto commish or the real deal, whatever you wanted to call yourself during those days when steroids decided to grow legs and walk into MLB clubhouses, YOU and only YOU were in charge of baseball, so you had better believe at least some of this is YOUR fault.  Prior to 1998, Selig was still pretty much an owner of an MLB team (you can argue that he technically transferred ownership to his daughter to avoid such a conflict of interest, but let’s be real here…) and actually profited from the fans running through the turnstiles to watch home runs get hit.  Baseball earned a lot of money during the height of the steroid era and the revenue generated by the league during this time has helped elevate the game to the financial prosperity MLB enjoys today.  As Commish, Selig was in charge and by being in charge, he automatically assumes some responsibility, rightfully so or not.  Ask George W. Bush about that.

As for Selig trying to implement a steroid policy in 1995… too bad there was already one in place by then.  In 1991, then-Commissioner Fay Vincent sent out a memo to teams and the MLBPA establishing baseball’s drug policy, including banning “steroids…for which the individual in possession of the drug does not have a prescription.”  Regardless… without Congress breathing down his neck, Selig did not push for an enhanced anti-drug policy and it took him until 2002 to get a more expansive policy into the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the players’ union.  In other words, there was this seven year period where Selig stopped “trying to institute a steroid policy,” which was coincidentally the same time when more home runs were hit and more money was in everyone’s pockets.  You’re  businessman, Bud.  Turning a blind eye was good for business… and business was good.

Despite these assertions that he’s not to blame, as the man at the top, the guy in charge, he certainly is to blame.  He has been a very good commissioner, but the steroid era happened on his watch and will taint his legacy.  Bud Selig, the owners, the players, and the fans all benefitted from the steroid era.  Money was in everyone’s pockets and people loved to watch home runs fly and records fall.  Everyone is to blame.

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