Ten years after Fay Vincent was ousted as commissioner, he wrote a book called “The Last Commissioner.” The book featured a great deal of commentary on current commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bud Selig. It appears now that after 2012, Selig will take his own shot at a literary work. Selig told the Chicago Tribune he will retire when his contract expires.
Sound familiar? It should. In December 2006, Selig announced he would retire at the end of his contract and teach or write a book. Déjà vu enough? Not really, Selig said in 2003 that he would retire at the end of 2006.
This time might be for real, though. Selig will be 78-years old by 2012. But, even if Selig does retire in 2012, decisions he makes during the 2011 collective bargaining agreement negotiations will affect Major League Baseball for years after.
Those 2011 negotiations appear to be the last act for Selig, here’s a look at the imprint Selig has left on Major League Baseball as Commissioner:
1994 strike- Selig was atop baseball during the 272 day work stoppage which was the eighth in MLB history and the only time the World Series had ever been canceled.
Realignment and Three Division Format – When Selig became commissioner in 1992, there were only two divisions in each league and the Milwaukee Brewers were in the American League. Now there are three divisions in each league, with 16 teams in the NL and 14 in the AL, six teams in the NL central and only four in the AL west.
Interleague play – Interleague play began in 1997, allowing American League teams to play National League teams during the regular season.
World Baseball Classic – An international baseball tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation and created by Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the MLBPA. See the WBC Web site here
Mitchell Report – The Mitchell report was responsible to outing stars such as Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada as steroid users. George Mitchell put together a list of suggestions, some of which Selig and MLB took. View the complete Mitchell report here
Drug Testing – Implemented in 2004 due to combined pressure from fans, media and the Mitchell Report. Here’s a FAQ of steroid testing. Read the latest Joint Drug Agreement.
Record breaking revenue and attendance – Each season from 2004-2007, Major League Baseball set all-time attendance records, drawing more than 79 million fans in ’07. During Selig’s tenure, ’92-present, revenues have increased from $1.2 billion to more than $6 billion (last year saw record revenues of $6.5 billion, and according to reports out of the MLBPA, the league will have revenues of $6.3 billion this year). Forbes reported in 2008 that clubs are worth an average of nearly $500 million, with the Yankees exceeding $1 billion in value.
All-Star Game – Selig changed the implications of the All-Star Game by making the result determine which league gets home field advantage in the World Series. The move came on the heels of the 2002 All-Star Game tie debacle. The move was intended address how managers used players, but also to increase television ratings. The ratings did not immediately increase, but in 2009, the All-Star Game drew 14.6 million viewers, its highest since 2002.
Instant Replay – At the end of 2008, limited instant replay was introduced to address “boundary plays”; whether a ball was considered a home run, or not. Controversial calls during the playoffs in ’09 caused many to call for expanded replay. Here is a look at all the reviewed calls since replay’s inception.
Contraction – During the early 2000s, Selig looked to reduce the league by two teams. One was the Montreal Expose, and the other was the Minnesota Twins. Twins owner Carl R. Pohlad offered the Twins up for contraction because he wanted out of baseball. Lawsuits kept the team from leaving Minnesota, Pohlad put the team up for sale and the Minnesota Legislature approved a plan for a new stadium. That stadium will debut next season.
Of course, the Expos became the Nationals, the Tampa Bay Rays name was thrown around for contraction, but no teams were removed from the league.
Here are several articles about Selig’s failed attempts to dissolve teams via contraction:
Something else to take in when it comes to Selig saying he will be retiring: For six-years Selig was acting commissioner. During that tiime he said repeatedly that he was not interested in the position on a fulltime basis.
''I think the whole thing was orchestrated,'' said a senior executive of one club to The New York Times at the time Selig was set to be announced as the fulltime commissioner. ''He was telling a small group of people from day one he wanted it but told everyone else he didn't. Then came the draft and he said he would accept it.''
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Matthew Coller is staff member of the Business of Sports Network and is a freelance writer. He can be followed on Twitter
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